Oskeim Sports previews Thursday’s NIT finals game between the Lipscomb Bisons and Texas Longhorns. Oskeim recommends taking the points with the Bisons as one of his daily sports picks for April 4.
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After being snubbed by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, Lipscomb responded by reeling off three consecutive upset wins on the road over Davidson (89-81), UNC-Greensboro (86-69) and North Carolina State (94-93).
Lipscomb’s overtime win at North Carolina State epitomizes the character of the Bisons; despite trailing 47-38 at halftime following a State three-pointer at the buzzer, Lipscomb responded by shooting 62 percent from the field in the second half to force overtime.
Lipscomb arrived Tuesday at Madison Square Garden to face Wichita State in the NIT semifinals. The Bisons proceeded to win their four straight postseason affair despite trailing by 11-points with 8:14 left in the game. “If there’s one thing somebody asked me about our team is that we’ve got tough kids,” head coach Casey Alexander said.
“To be honest with you we’ve been in this position a good amount so we’ve seen it before,” Rob Marberry said following Tuesday’s comeback win. “We know we can come back and when the pressure gets on, we’ve been pulling through lately and we try to settle down and do what we do and get some stops.”
Lipscomb has a nation-best fourteen true road wins this season and rank seventh nationally in both scoring offense (84.0 ppg) and assists per game (17.6), while sitting eighth in scoring margin (+13.9).
The Bison’s offense is anchored by seniors Garrison Mathews, an Atlantic Sun All-Conference First Team honoree who is averaging 20.6 points per game and Rob Marberry, who joined Mathews on the Atlantic Sun’s All-Conference First Team with 14.8 points per game. Marberry ranks 11th in the country with a 62.7% field goal percentage.
Lipscomb boasts the 18th-highest assist rate and 36th-highest three-point rate in the nation, which is a favorable matchup against a Texas squad that allowed a below-average three-point clip during the regular season.
The Longhorns’ success in the NIT has been due, in large part, to positive variance. Colorado and TCU combined to make just 21.3% of their three-point attempts against the Longhorns, a level of variance that is unsustainable.
Lipscomb’s frontcourt is anchored by senior Eli Pepper, who ranked seventh in the conference with 7.2 rebounds per game. The Bisons boast the 17th-ranked defensive rebounding percentage (24.0) in the nation, which is significant against a Texas team that is without forward Jaxson Hayes (knee), who averaged 10.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in 32 games in 2018-19.
Hayes was named the conference’s Freshman of the Year and claimed a spot on the All-Big 12 Second Team. Hayes ranks third in the Big 12 Conference and 22nd nationally in blocks per game (2.22 bpg). He shot 72.8 percent from the field (123-169), breaking the program’s record for field goal percentage.
The Longhorns’ offense relies on scoring from beyond the arc (61st-highest three-point scoring rate) but Lipscomb allows the 47th-lowest three-point clip (31.9%) in the country.
The Bisons are surrendering a below-average scoring rate (30.4%) from beyond the arc. Let’s also note that the Longhorns’ attack has slowed down considerably, averaging just 96.5 points per possession over their past two games.
Texas has benefited from positive three-point variance at the offensive end of the floor as well. The Longhorns shot under 35.0 percent from beyond the arc during the regular season but have converted nearly 40 percent of their three-pointers during the NIT. In two of their tournament wins, the Longhorns shot a combined 20-for-45 from long distance, a 55.6% success rate!
The Bison are a profitable 9-2 ATS as an underdog this season, 12-2 ATS in non-conference affairs, 16-6 ATS following a road tilt, 12-3 ATS on the road off one or more consecutive wins and 7-0 ATS away from home off three or more straight wins.
Finally, don’t be worried about Lipscomb being road-weary after being on the road since the NIT started. The Bison are 7-0 ATS after playing three or more consecutive road games since 2017.
With Lipscomb standing at 29-10-1 ATS as an underdog since November 16, 2017, grab the points with the Bisons as one of Oskeim Sports’ daily sports picks.
Oskeim Sports’ Daily Sports Picks for Thursday, April 4:
- Lipscomb (+1.5) over Texas
- Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers UNDER 228 points