The Rockets open their N.I.T. campaign with a difficult matchup against the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor. The Cleveland Cavaliers are in Charlotte for an Eastern Conference NBA matchup with the Hornets.
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Toledo Rockets vs Michigan Wolverines 7:00 pm
Toledo is a +7.5 underdog with a 162-point total when they face the Michigan Wolverines for their 1st-round NIT matchup at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor.
The Rockets were riding a 17-game winning streak but lost to Kent State in the MAC Tournament Final, and the Rockets missed the Big Dance and the MAC regular season champs now find themselves playing in the N.I.T on the Road against Michigan.
That has to sting a bit, and now, thanks to the special N.I.T format where the higher seed hosts games played through the quarterfinals, they are large underdogs in what will be a raucous Crisler Arena crowd, and the nation’s 2nd highest-scoring offense is going to struggle Tuesday.
9:47 2H | Rockets on a 6-0 run to get within a point on this @jshuuu32 putback! Golden Flashes take timeout.
— Toledo Men's Basketball (@Toledo_MBB) March 12, 2023
Michigan will be the best team Toledo has played thus far, with a distinct height advantage and the crowd on their side. The Wolverines have dropped three straight- as unhappy as Toledo is- so is Michigan All-American center Hunter Dickenson, and he will give the Rockets’ defense a hard time Tuesday.
Defense. Sixth Man. Scratching the Surface!
How can you not root for Tarris Reed, Jr.!
— Michigan Men's Basketball (@umichbball) March 8, 2023
Once the season commences, Dickenson will likely enter the draft, but he returned to Michigan to lead them to postseason glory, and he had a disappointing season by his standards. This could be his last game at Crisler, and he and the Wolverines will look to bury Toledo, and the Rockets’ defense will accommodate them.
Toledo is No. 335 in points allowed per game playing in a conference Kenneth Pommeroy ranked 19th best among the 32 D1 conferences, and the Michigan offense is going to launch shots from inside and outside the arc, and the Rockets won’t be able to stop them.
Look for a heavy diet of Dickenson and Jett Howard jumpers-Howard is coming off his worst game of the season, and we should expect the freshman guard to have a big night.
The Rockets are a big-scoring team, but the Wolverines were 2nd in the conference in defensive efficiency and should get enough stops for Michigan to outscore Toledo and cover the -7.5 spread.
Phil’s Best Bet: Michigan -7.5 -110 Caesars
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Charlotte Hornets 7:00 pm
Cleveland is an -8.5 favorite with a 221.5 point total when the two sides meet Tuesday night at Spectrum Center.
The Cavaliers have played .500 basketball over their past 10 contests and defeated the Hornets Sunday night in Charlotte 114-108. The win improved their away record to 15-20, but they failed to cover the -10 and now are 14-19-1 ATS wearing the away jerseys.
Charlotte has dropped two straight and is also a .500 team over their past 10. The Hornets are 11-22 SU and 13-20 ATS at Spectrum Center.
Jarrett Allen missed Sunday’s tilt with an injured eye and is questionable for Tuesday. –LaMelo Ball is out for the season, and Kelly Oubre has missed 27 games with various injuries, including Sunday’s clash with the Cavs, and is listed as questionable.
Phil’s Best Bet: Over 221.5 -110 Caesars
We have two rested teams playing each other for the third time this season and 2nd time in as many days, and Charlotte has lost both, with each game ending Over the total and this game should finish with Cleveland winning and this game going Over 221.5.
Cleveland allows the fewest points per game in the league overall (106.7) but allows two more points on the road–as a result, the Cavs are a below .500 side SU with a 17-18 away record to the Under.
Charlotte doesn’t get the job done on the defensive end of the floor–they allow the 25th fewest points per game at home and are one of the fastest-playing sides in the league.
The Cavs are the slowest-paced team in the league but don’t mind playing fast, and the pace of play and the lack of Charlotte defense, plus the fact the Hornets don’t want to lose three straight to Cleveland, will keep this one close and Over 221.5 points.
Phil’s Best Bet: Over 221.5 -110 Caesars
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