The NIT moves into the second round as the Colorado Buffaloes of the Pac-12 host the Utah Valley Wolverines of the Western Athletic Conference Sunday night. The Buffaloes are the second seed in their bracket while the Wolverines are the 6th seed. These two programs have not faced each other in recent years. Colorado is a 4.5 point favorite. Tipoff is at 9:30 p.m. EDT at the CU Events Center in Boulder. Colorado.
Utah Valley upsets New MexicoThe Utah Valley Wolverines had an incredible season, going 26-8 overall and winning the WAC regular season title at 15-3. However, they were denied a ticket to the Big dance after losing in the semifinals of the WAC tournament to Southern Utah, 89-88. So, here they are in the NIT and they looked good in their first-round matchup, pounding the higher-seeded New Mexico Lobos, on the road, 83-69. The Wolverines led the whole way and easily covered as a 5.5 underdog.
Trey Woodbury's hammer dunk in last night's 83-69 win at New Mexico in the first round of the @NITMBB with UVU radio play-by-play announcer Jim McCulloch on the call. #UVUhoops #SCtop10 #UVU #NITMBB #NIT2023 pic.twitter.com/xhgGUQkUp9— UVU Men’s Basketball (@UVUmbb) March 16, 2023
Utah Valley dominated in this game, shooting 47% from the floor and holding New Mexico to 40% shooting. They had 7 threes to 3 for the Lobos and won the rebounding battle 45-35. The difference maker was Justin Harmon, who scored 32 points to lead the Wolverines. Harmon averages just 13.7 points per game, so this was a breakout performance for the guard. Tim Fuller did some good work with 14 points and 10 rebounds while Trey Woodbury filled up the stat sheet with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Aziz Bandaoga added 8 points and 11 rebounds.
Buffaloes take out Seton HallThe Colorado Buffaloes earned the second seed in their bracket, mainly because they play in a power conference, the Pac-12. that would account for their 18-16 record, which included an 8-12 mark in the Pac-12 -- good for 8th place. But they advanced to the second round of the NIT after taking out Seton Hall from the Big East on Tuesday by the score of 65-64. The Buffaloes were 4-point favorites so they did not cover, but this was an exciting and hard-earned win nonetheless.
sharp shooter 🎯@ewright3862's 18 points vs. Seton Hall are his most as a Buff— Colorado Men's Basketball (@CUBuffsMBB) March 15, 2023
Colorado fell behind 64-63 after Seton Hall's KC Ndefo scored an old-fashioned 3, getting fouled on a dunk and converting the free throw with just 32 seconds left. But Colorado countered when Julian Hammond made a layup to give the Buffaloes a 65-64 lead with 20 seconds left. The Buffaloes defense was then able to hold Seton Hall in the final seconds and they escaped with a win. This was an ugly game as both teams shot below 40% in the game. Ethan Wright led Colorado with 18 points while Tristan da Silva added 15 points.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
This one feels like an upset to me. Utah Valley is an excellent team that should have been playing in the NCAA tournament. They get a low seed because of their relatively easy conference, but they are a better team than Colorado. Utah Valley destroyed a good New Mexico team while Colorado barely survived against a Seton Hall squad that really struggled down the stretch. Ultimately, Utah Valley's size will be too much for Colorado to handle as they rank second in the nation in rebounds and first in blocked shots. Also, the Wolverines are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 road games versus a team with a winning home record. I like Utah Valley to win outright, so take them getting the points.
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Full-Game Total Pick
These teams both play at a fairly quick pace, but this game feels like it could be a slower affair. Often with teams like this that have no familiarity with one another, there is a feeling out period, and then there is a battle to control tempo. Often, it just devolves into a half court game and there I give the advantage to Utah Valley, which will control the glass, but is also a better assist team and shooting team. The under is 6-0 in the Wolverines last 6 road games versus a team with a winning home record and 5-2 in the Buffaloes last 7 home games. Take the under.