Those who engage in March Madness betting at BetAnySports know that when teams from big conferences have to settle for the NIT, they sometimes have a bit of a letdown. On Wednesday night the Tennessee Volunteers, who are such a team, do battle with the Mercer Bears in a game that begins at 8 PM ET.
Here is the setup:
Mercer Bears at Tennessee Volunteers
Wednesday, March 20 – 8 PM ET
Thompson Boling Arena
The Volunteers have brought down some pretty good teams on their late-season run, and that is certainly reflected in the numbers as they are posted:
Over 125.5 Points -110
Under 125.5 Points -110
Here we have another of those situations where we are not quite sure what the mindset of the home team is. Tennessee was putting on a late rush to get to the NCAA Tournament; in fact, the Vols won and covered nine of its previous ten games, including victories over Florida, Kentucky and Missouri, before being bounced in a limp effort against Alabama in the second round of the SEC tourney. The 48 points they scored was not a season low; in fact, they had managed just 36 and 38 points in consecutive games against Georgetown and Virginia very early in the season.
Mercer brings a team that has tournament experience; in fact, the Bears won the College Insider Tournament last season, and returned four starters from that club. Their problem in the Atlantic Sun Conference was losing two out of three to Florida Gulf Coast. In the non-conference schedule, Mercer’s results were mixed at best. They defeated Alabama and Florida State, and lost narrowly to George Mason, but were also routed by Denver (69-40), New Mexico (76-58) and even Illinois-Chicago (62-36), shooting less than 40% in all those games. In fact, Mercer had problems making baskets whenever they moved up their level of competition.
Mercer allowed just over 58 points a game this season, and BetAnySports customers know that their best hope is going to be making this as slow a pace as possible, because they know Tennessee was a manageable opponent this season if teams were able to do that (as evidenced by their performances against Alabama, Virginia and Georgetown. But they were not completely foreign to that style either, and they will certainly carry an advantage when it comes to bulk. It will certainly be difficult stopping a guy like 270-pounder Jernell Stokes. We’d like to have seen more form Mercer against those non-conference foes, but we’re not sure we are too encouraged with some of the quotes from Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin, who, when asked about the possible psychological letdown after being relegated to the NIT, told the Macon Telegraph, “We don’t have a choice. You’ve got to play the game……..Now we’ve got to get them ready to play in the NIT. It’s easier said than done.”
The psychological dynamic in the NIT is different than it is for the NCAA Tournament, especially when it comes to teams from the “power” conferences. Tennessee may not be looking forward to this game as much as their opponent, and that could be a factor. We’re going to grab points with Mercer, which, as we mentioned, has had the experience of rolling through a post-season tournament last year, and we make it a $20,000 wager (for entertainment purposes only, of course) in our Charles Jay / BetAnySports March Madness Challenge.
CHARLES JAY, a contributor to BangTheBook.com, is one of the most experienced sports betting writers in America, as he has written more than 10,000 pieces specifically for the industry over the last seven years. At one time employed as an editorial consultant with USA Network, he is also a former syndicated radio talk show host (American Radio Networks) and has also done color commentary on boxing events in the past for Prime Network (now known as Fox SportsNet). He is a veteran of more than a decade and a half working within the professional sports industry, and has been handicapping sporting events for over 25 years. In addition to this, he has compiled specialty odds for a number of online sportsbook operations and media outlets.