NCAA Basketball Picks -- Clemson-New Mexico - The OTHER Pitino made it to the NCAA's

  • In Charles Jay
  • Fri, Mar 22nd, 2024 9:19:42 am
  • By Charles Jay - Exclusive to OSGA

The story of Richard Pitino is an improbable one, but he has the Mountain West champions and a berth in the Big Dance.

What BetOnline patrons may find interesting about Richard Pitino is that, despite being a coach's son, he came into the NCAA basketball coaching ranks without having played college basketball. Rather, he was a team manager at Providence College, where he attended school. He banged around foir about seven or eight years, taking jiobs as an assistant, including one with his father at Louisville. 

Then it was a year at Florida International (FIU), then eight years at Minnesota, where he made it to the NCAA Tournament twice, and then on to New Mexico, where he had his best seaosn ever this year, winning 26 games.

Of course, the highlight was the Lobos' run to the Mountain West championship, in which they beat Boise State, Colorado State and San Diego State to capture the crown. They had to win four games in four days, but they have had five full days off since then. And let's keep in mind that the Lobos were not competing in a "cupcake" conference, as the MWC received six bids to the NCAA's. 

Many of you may find irony in the fact that Richard's dad Rick, in his first season at St. John's, arguably did more than enough to earn an at-large bid to the Big Dance, but was shut out. He was so upset about it (and had a right to be) that he refused a bid to the NIT. 

Here are the odds at BetOnline from which we will make our NCAA basketball picks on this game: 

New Mexico Lobos -2 (-115)
Clemson Tigers +2 (-105)

Over 152.5 points -110
Under 152.5 points -110

Don't forget that you will have a chance to wager on this game while it is in progress, using the "Live Betting" component that is at the left-hand side of the sportsbook interface!

While Rick Pitino becamed known at Providence for being one of the early "three-point crazy" coaches, featuring a kid named Billy Donovan, son Richard doesn't rely on the shot too much at all with his Lobos, who take less than 30% of their attempts from beyond the arc. 

The key for New Mexico is to be able to turn the tempo up. They get the ball up in a hurry - with a 15.4-second average possession, which is 12th fastest in the nation. At the same time, they are 15th best in the country in offensive turnover percentage. That means they know how to take care of the ball. 

One thing you can count on from Clemson is that they don't leave a lot of points on the table at the foul line, as they are the eighth-best free throw shooting team in the nation (79%). And with people like PJ Hall and Ian Schieffelin, they are pretty potent in the short and mid-range game. 

But we have some concerns about the way the Tigers' season has gone under coach Brad Brownell. Early in the season, they scored excellent wins over Alabama and TCU, And they went to Chapel Hill and defeated North Carolina. That tells us what they can do when they are at their best. 

But you have to wonder whether they peaked too early. Starting off the campaign at 11-1, they have gone 10-10 since. This was low-lighted by losses to Georgia Tech and Notre Dame, who represented the lower rung of the ACC. You might argue that there were one-point losses to Duke, Virginia and NC State, but there was also an abysmal 21-point loss to Boston College in the ACC Tournament. That was nine days ago, so you also have to be curious about some "rust."

This is a close call, but we're giving New Mexico a slight edge. 

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