College Basketball Odds & Picks -- With March Madness Upon Us, How Good is Wofford?

  • In Charles Jay
  • Sun, Mar 10th, 2019 11:33:02 am
  • By Charles Jay - Exclusive to OSGA


The Wofford Terriers are the best "mini-major" team in the country, according to the polls. Now they face the East Tennessee State Buccaneers in the semi-finals of the Southern Conference tournament on Sunday.

As we rapidly approach the arrival of the "meat and potatoes" part of March Madness, there is a name you are going to be introduced to - and I say that because you probably don't already know it:

Wofford.

Not Wofford University, but Wofford College. That's a team which is considered a legitimate darkhorse as we move toward the NCAA Tournament, as we are relatively certain they are going to get there, even if they don't win the Southern Conference tournament. In fact, it has been a good enough year for the SoCon that if the East Tennessee State Buccaneers were to pull a pair of upsets to win the title, this league will certainly get two bids to the Big Dance, and maybe even three (though not likely, but we have to consider the Paladins of Furman, with a NET of 41).

The SoCon semi-final begins at 4 PM ET at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, NC.

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Wofford is a team that is 27-4 (18-11 ATS) and has won all 19 games in the conference this season. They destroyed VMI 99-72 on Saturday, so they were able to get some of their people off the floor. No starter played more than 25 minutes.

Wofford free pickIn this, Mike Young's 17th year at the helm, there is exciting around the Spartanburg, SC campus like no other time before. After all, Wofford is not only ranked 22nd in the nation by both the Associated Press and Coaches' polls, they are in 14th position in the all-important NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool) rankings, which will go a long way toward determining slots and seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

But does this team deserve that lofty perch? That's something we're going to explore.

In the college basketball odds posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, Wofford is laying some points:

Wofford Terriers    -7.5
East Tennessee State Buccaneers +7.5

Over 141 points   -110
Under 141 points -110

At least one publication has had Wofford projected to face Arizona State in the first round of the NCAA's. That would be a "David vs. Goliath" matchup in one respect; while Wofford's undergraduate enrollment is just under 1700, ASU is somewhere north of 83,000.

Okay, so how did this team get so successful? Well, simply put, they shoot lights out. The Terriers, who are very deliberate in their half-court offense, are hitting 41.6% from three-point range, which is second best in the nation. And when a team that accurate attempts almost 44% of its shots from beyond the arc, you know they have a pretty good formula. Four of their five starters, including top scorer Fletcher Magee, are among the nation's top 65 in individual Offensive Rating, and that's impressive.

But the interesting thing college basketball bettors should know about some of this is that while they have scored two victories over conference rival Furman, which has beaten half of last year's Final Four (Loyola-Chicago, Villanova), they have failed when stepping up in class outside of the conference, lost four time by double digits. North Carolina, Oklahoma and Mississippi State all beat them by eleven, while Kansas scorched them 72-47.

And while they did hit 13 of 22 triples against Mississippi State - in a game, mind you, where they allowed 57% FG's to the Bulldogs - they fell far short of their season average against the other "Power 5" teams, shooting an aggregate of 26% in those other three defeats. Yet in the NET rankings, they are four spots higher than Kansas and 25 ahead of Oklahoma (also seven ahead of Mississippi State).

Well-balanced ETSU (24-8 SU, 18-12 ATS) isn't going to be a cakewalk. They extended Wofford to overtime the last time they met, in a game where the Terriers shot 50% from the field but also surrendered 19 offensive rebounds. And if the Bucs hadn't bricked at the free throw line (just 8 of 15), it might have been a different story.

While we would hold off the talk about Wofford being a genuine "darkhorse" in the Big Dance, we will acknowledge that this could be a very favorable matchup for them, since ETSU has been extremely permissive beyond the arc (allowing 38.4% - 336th in the nation). And it deserves mention that Wofford beat them in an early season meeting by 17 points despite shooting just 7-of-22 from downtown. So let's lay the points here, but watch this situation closely moving forward.

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