I have very little confidence in Middle Tennessee State despite its 63-60 upset win over Charlotte yesterday afternoon. Indeed, the Blue Raiders are a money-burning 8-23 ATS on the road versus teams with a winning record, including 4-12 ATS versus teams with a win percentage of .601 or greater. Middle Tennessee State is also just 7-18 ATS as an underdog, 10-22 ATS in conference road games and 6-17 ATS on the road off one or more consecutive wins.
Middle Tennessee State takes the floor with an anemic offense that is averaging 64.3 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 67.2 points per game to a mediocre offensive squad. The Blue Raiders are 6-12 SU and ATS on the road this season where they are averaging just 61.6 points per game. Overall, the Blue Raiders’ attack is 2.7 points per game worse than average this season, which is no where good enough to have success against a stout UTEP defense.
The Miners are allowing a 63.5 points per game this season to teams that would combine to average 68.1 points per game, thereby making UTEP 2.6 points per game better than average defensively. More importantly, UTEP is 14-5 ATS versus conference foes against whom the Miners are giving up just 63.3 points per game. Overall, UTEP possesses a significant 5.3 points per game advantage defensively over the Blue Raiders’ woeful attack.
UTEP’s offense is 3.0 points per game better than average (69.9 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 66.9 points per game), but the Miners seem to have hit their stride at the offensive end of the court where they are shooting 48.2% from the field and 37.2% from beyond the arc. The question really becomes whether the Miners can have success against a good Middle Tennessee State defense that is 4.9 points per game better than average (62.3 points per game to teams that would combine to average 67.2 points per game).
If UTEP’s 83-71 win over Florida International yesterday is any indication, the Miners should have success penetrating Middle Tennessee State’s defense. The Miners shot 61 percent from the field and made 8-of-12 three pointers in their quarterfinal victory. I thought we were very good in the open floor tonight, which is always a challenge,” head coach Tim Floyd said. “But I think this team has gotten better and better and I think we’re making pretty darned good decisions there. And I thought we handled the press better than we have in five weeks. So there were a lot of positives there for our team tonight.”
Despite yesterday’s solid performance, coach Floyd is not letting is team become complacent. “Let’s not get too influenced by shot making,” Floyd said. “We made every shot tonight. We gave up 18 offensive boards. That’s got to be something that gets better tomorrow and hopefully it will.” My math model favors UTEP by eight points and the Miners are 11-5 ATS as favorites and 5-0-1 ATS versus teams off an upset win in this event. Lay the points with the far superior team in the Conference USA semifinals and invest with confidence.