Tuesday's Best College Basketball Bet: Middle Tennessee vs. Abilene Christian

Middle Tennessee is taking on Abilene Christian in the College Basketball Invitational tonight. Ben Rajavuori takes you through the matchup and gives you his best bet for the game.
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Tuesday's Best College Basketball Bet: Middle Tennessee vs. Abilene Christian

While many await the return of the NCAA tournament on Thursday, there is still some action for us fellow College Basketball lovers to bet on. The College Basketball Invitational is a yearly tournament that started in 2007, and it features the best teams that couldn't quite make the other postseason tournaments. The semifinals kick off tonight from Daytona Beach, and we have Middle Tennessee and Abilene Christian squaring off in this one. So what's the best play in this nightcap?

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Middle Tennessee is coming off a thirty-point blowout in the second round over Boston University and looked impressive in the first two rounds. Middle Tennessee had an impressive season, ranking in the bottom 100 to start the season, but finished in the top 100. They finished the year with a 15-0 record at home and took tournament team UAB to three overtimes in the conference tournament before finally falling.

One thing this team does very well is score second-chance buckets. They rank 32nd in the nation in second chance conversion rate and are one of the better offensive rebounding teams. This matches up well against an Abilene Christian team that ranks 299th in offensive rebounds allowed per possession. I expect Middle Tennessee to have a significant advantage on the offensive glass tonight to help them win this one.

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The area Middle Tennessee needs to watch tonight is disciplined defense. Middle Tennessee is 292nd in free throw rate allowed on defense, allowing their opponents too many shots from the charity stripe. Unlucky for them, their opponent tonight, Abilene Christian, is one of the top teams in the nation at drawing fouls. Abilene Christian is 10th in the country with a 38.8 free throw to field goal rate. They also score 23.1% of their points from the line, which is nearly six percent above the division one average.

Abilene Christian had a tough end to a great year. The Wildcats went 20-9 in the regular season and made it to the conference tournament championship, where they fell 52-66 to New Mexico State to crush their shot at the NCAA Tournament. They have made the most of their postseason, though, not giving up and making it to the semifinals of the CBI after wins over two formidable opponents in Troy and Ohio.

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The Wildcats have a well-balanced offense and spread the ball well. They rank 43rd in assist-to-field-goal ratio and have three players averaging over ten points per game. The name of the game for this team is playing physical, and although it has led to Abilene Christian ranking first overall in turnovers forced rate on defense and tenth in free-throw to field goal rate, it has caused them to foul a lot as a team as well. In fact, the Wildcats are dead last at 358th in opponent's free-throw to field-goal attempts ratio. So while it pays off for them to force turnovers, the physical style of play also gives their opponents a lot of free points from the line.

Everything in this game points to the over for me. Abilene Christian scored 82 and 91 points in the first two rounds, shooting 23 and 29 free throws in the process. They also play fast, which has helped run the scores up. Middle Tennessee is one of the best second-chance scoring teams in the nation and draws a lot of fouls themselves. Middle Tennessee is 234th in turnover rate on offense, and Abilene Christian is the best team in the country at forcing turnovers. This should be a fast-paced game with over 50 free throw attempts combined as both teams get in the bonus early in each half. The spread is also tight on this one, so don't be surprised to see a fouling game in the last minute or so. There were 27 points in the final two minutes of the Wildcats game with Ohio last night because of the tight game foul scenario. The over is the play in this one.

Abilene Christian vs. Middle Tennessee Best Bet Pick

Pick: Abilene Christian vs. Middle Tennessee Over 138.5 (-110) (Bet $110 to Win $100)

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Ben Rajavuori is a handicapper out of Minneapolis, MN. He has been creating sports content for almost four years now and is an expert in all things NFL, MLB, NBA, UFC, and NCAAB. Ben thrives on diving deep into statistics to find the best angle on every bet. You can follow him on Twitter @WeBeatTheSpread.

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