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Free Picks: Colonial Athletic Conference & Southern Conference Winners

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Oskeim Sports previews the Colonial Athletic Conference Tournament game between UNC-Wilmington and Northeastern.  Oskeim provides free picks in that game as well as in the Southern Conference Tournament game between East Tennessee State and UNC-Greensboro.

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Northeastern was my pick to win the Colonial Athletic Conference Tournament and the Huskies remain undervalued by the betting market. My math model favors Northeastern by 9.62 points in this game and the Huskies are a profitable 11-5 ATS following a win by 20+ points.

In contrast, Wilmington is a money-burning 3-7 ATS in its last ten games following a win and is coming off an emotionally-draining 1-point upset over Hofstra last night.

Northeastern’s pick-and-roll offense is led by point guard Vasa Pusica, who leads the team in both scoring (17.5 ppg) and assists (161). Pusica is shooting 50.4 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from beyond the arc, while also converting 80.7 percent from the foul line.

The Huskies are ranked 28th in the nation in offensive field goal percentage (48.4), 54th in assists per game (15.7) and 60th in total assists (488), all of which have been made possible by Pusica.

Defense will ultimately be the deciding factor in this game. Northeastern is allowing just 68.9 points per game to teams that would combine to average 74.9 points per game against a mediocre defense. The Huskies have yielded 64.0 points in their last five games, limiting opponents to 24.1 percent from three-point territory.

Northeastern allowed the lowest three-point attempt rate in the Colonial Athletic Conference this season because of its excellent pick-and-roll defense. Teams that attempted three-pointers against the Huskies only made 29.7 percent of their attempts in 2017-18.

Meanwhile, Wilmington’s porous defense is giving up 83.5 points per game on 47.7% shooting from the field and 38.9% from beyond the arc to teams that would combine to average 75.0 points per game against a mediocre defense. Let’s also note that the Seahawks are yielding 89.1 points per game on the road (50.0% FG%, 41.2% 3-PT%) and 83.4 points (46.6% FG%) over their last five contests.

Two positive factors for the Seahawks in this game (or concerns for Northeastern backers) would be that they possess a significant advantage on the boards and should have opportunities inside as Northeastern allowed the highest shot rate at the rim in the country this season.

Finally, Northeastern is shooting 73.4 percent from the charity stripe this season, including making 73.4 percent of its attempts on the road, 74.5 percent in conference play and 76.0 percent over its last five games.

Conversely, Wilmington is making just 69.2 percent of its free throws, including 68.8 percent away from home. With Wilmington standing at 8-21 ATS versus opponents with efficient offenses like Northeastern’s attack, lay the number with the Huskies as one of Oskeim Sports’ Free Picks for Monday, March 5.

Oskeim’s Free Picks for Monday, March 5:

  • Northeastern (-7) over UNC-Wilmington
  • UNC-Greensboro (+2) over East Tennessee State

Greensboro took down East Tennessee State earlier this season, effectively ending ETSU’s sixteen-game winning streak. My math model favors East Tennessee State by 0.55 points so at +2 Greensboro has value in tonight’s Conference title game.