Featured Video from Scott Reichel
It’s the first four play-in game from Dayton, Ohio here as the Belmont Bruins will battle it out with the Temple Owls for a spot in the round of 64. Belmont had won 14 straight games before falling to Murray State in the OVC Tournament, while Temple enters this one at 23-9. Oddsmakers have the Bruins as three point favorites here for this one, which will be televised on TruTV.
Belmont had to be somewhat surprised when they heard their names called on Selection Sunday. As a mid-major team, they don’t usually receive the most credit when it comes time to sort out at-large selections to the tournament.
Many observers, including ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, left them out of their final projections. That should give the Bruins an extra chip on their shoulder here. They might not have any household names, but underestimate them at your own risk. Belmont is a great team, and they rattled off 14 straight wins before finally losing to a very good Murray State squad in the conference tournament. They beat Lipscomb twice in the non-conference, and also beat UCLA in non-conference play while playing Purdue very close. Belmont is one of those teams you just have to watch to fully understand, as they function so well as a unit with such great chemistry.
Dylan Windler finishes with 32 points on 12-of-19 shooting to go along with 21 rebounds in a big win over Austin Peay. Cashed 8-of-15 triples in a variety of ways. Thought he helped himself today. Up next, Murray State and Ja Morant vs Jacksonville State. pic.twitter.com/cvf62Czzma
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) March 9, 2019
They really turned things on toward the end of the season, and I love a team with some momentum this time of year. Temple hasn’t looked great recently, and Belmont is definitely the more confident team in this spot. Belmont has a lot of shooters who space the floor well, and they shoot over 37% from three as a team. That’ll be a problem against Temple’s shaky perimeter defense. All four of their leading scorers shoot at least 36.5% from three, and anybody can make you pay on any given night.
Last Ride For Dunphy
Temple was also a team that had to sweat it out on the bubble, although most people expected them to get in. This has been a nice season for Temple basketball, as they took a big step forward in what is a transitional year for the program.
Before the season started, it was announced that this would be the final campaign at the helm for longtime coach Fran Dunphy. But Temple never was able to establish any consistency this season, and I wasn’t that impressed. In their biggest game of the year that would’ve assured them a spot in the tournament, they lost to a mediocre Wichita State team in the AAC Tournament quarterfinals. They made it to March Madness regardless, but it wasn’t a very good showing and doesn’t give me much confidence in them moving forward.
Temple ranks just 76th on Kenpom, which is one of the lowest rankings for an at-large team in recent years. They just simply didn’t play that well this year and went 23-9 despite playing a non-conference strength of schedule that was much easier than Belmont’s. They only had two big wins the entire year, both coming at home by narrow margins over UCF and Houston, and they failed all of their other tests. I feel like the team got in mostly as a nod to Dunphy, and I don’t think they’re going to send him out with any kind of deep tournament run.
- 6-2 in Owls last 8 overall
- 16-4-1 in Owls last 21 neutral site games
- 8-3 in Owls last 11 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600
- 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall
- 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following an ATS loss
- 12-5 ATS in their last 17 non-conference games
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I love the Bruins in this spot. They’re the far more complete team, and are better than Temple at just about everything. The Owls don’t deserve to be in this tournament, and that’ll show here. Belmont will shoot Temple out of the gym, and will end up winning this one relatively easily.
Prediction: Belmont -3
Full-Game Total Pick
I also like the over a lot here. Temple’s defense isn’t very good, and it’s gotten even worse recently. The over is 6-2 in their last eight games, and the defense should continue to struggle here against a Belmont team that shoots the ball very well. The nerves on both sides will lead to some defensive breakdowns and lots of fouls, and this one should be a shootout.