Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at 1:00 PM
It’s not exactly a clash of the titans Thursday night when Valparaiso takes on George Washington in Madison Square Garden for the NIT Championship. In fact, many casual fans are barely familiar with these teams at all! But, educated sports bettors are fully aware that we have a meeting between arguably the “best” mid-major not to get an at-large bid to the Big Dance in Valpo, and a red hot team playing great basketball in GW.
This could be a GREAT game! And it will feature talented teams who are going all out to win a championship.
Let’s review how each survived the semifinals.
Valparaiso 72, BYU 70
Two-Point Shooting: Brigham Young 40%, Valpo 45%
Three-Pointers: Brigham Young 7/21, Valpo 11/28
Free Throws: Brigham Young 11/17, Valpo 9/17
Rebounds Brigham Young 45, Valpo 42
Turnovers: Brigham Young 18, Valpo 20
Phantom Score: Brigham Young 83, Valpo 72
Both Valpo and George Washington jumped out to big first half leads Tuesday night. Valpo managed to blow all of it and was fortunate to get the win! You can see that three-pointers were the difference-maker. Valpo was +12 points from long range in a game they only won by a deuce. You regulars know that “Phantom Score” is a JIM HURLEY invention that reflects two-point scoring plus rebounding. BYU used its size to win that handily. Valpo ultimately didn’t reach the Big Dance because they lost a home floor championship game as big favorites…and they almost didn’t reach the NIT Finals because they blew a big lead. This team creates adversity out of great situations!
George Washington 65, San Diego State 46
Two-Point Shooting: GW 45%, SDSU 38%
Three-Pointers: GW 7/19, SDSU 3/22
Free Throws: GW 6/9, SDSU 9/12
Rebounds GW 42, SDSU 36
Turnovers: GW 6, SDSU 11
Phantom Score: GW 79, SDSU 68
Very similar to a win earlier in the tournament at overrated #1 seed Monmouth. George Washington grabbed the game by the throat and then protected a lead down the stretch with smart offense and great defense. Maybe San Diego State was a bit jet-lagged. And, maybe they were overrated because they had been coasting at home in the earlier rounds. Clearly only one team was ready to play here. It was never a ballgame. (Congrats to those of you who won with NETWORK on GW. It was Valpo pushing at -2, and GW covering by 22 on the 1-0-1 semifinal combo.)
Clearly GW was more impressive in the semifinals. Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats from the full season have to say about these teams. Once again, we check in with Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency stats that are publicly posted at kenpom.com…
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency
Valparaiso: 106.4 per 100 possessions (#116 in the nation)
George Washington: 113.2 per 100 possessions (#27 in the nation)
Big edge on this side of the ball to GW. Valpo has a tendency to run into cold spells that make it very yard to finish what they started. If you’ve been watching the NIT, you’ve seen that GW is very smart about working the ball to get good shots. This helps them protect leads because they run clock AND then score!
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency
Valparaiso: 92.0 per 100 possessions (#6 in the nation)
George Washington: 101.4 per 100 possessions (#122 in the nation)
Big reversal here though…as Valparaiso has a fantastic defense while GW struggled through much of the season. Clearly, GW is playing much better than that national ranking NOW on this side of the floor. But, overall…if you believe that “defense wins championships,” then Valpo may have to get the nod. Very tough to handicap, because GW is playing its best basketball of the year as we speak, while inconsistent Valpo can fall apart at the drop of a hat.
George Washington: #266
Both teams are slower than average, meaning this is going to be “playoff style” basketball from start to finish. Both offenses will try to work for good shots. Valpo will be doing that with an inconsistent offense against an uncertain defense. GW will be doing that with an excellent offense against a great defense!
Against the Spread
George Washington: 17-16-1
Nothing of note there. The markets have largely been in synch with both. The opening line of Valpo -2 was immediately bet down to -1. You can basically read that as “full season math” being corrected immediately by sharps because of “recent form.” Looking only at the tournament, GW should be the favorite. Looking at full season computer rankings and other measures, Valpo should be favored by more than this!
So, which way should YOU go? Is recent form more important? Or, is GW finally about to hit a wall against a top opponent who won’t be jet lagged? JIM HURLEY will definitely have a play in this one courtesy of his New York sources posted online Thursday. You can purchase nightly BEST BETS year round right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service through March Madness or the NBA Playoffs, please call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours.
The 2016 NIT will crown its champion Thursday night at the mecca of college basketball. When championships are on the line, YOU NEED WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!
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