Tuesday, March 25, 2014 | 2 a.m.
With a few days between NCAA Tournament games, it feels like an ideal time to inject some variety into the Play of the Day.
No thanks. College basketball rules right now so if the Play of the Day, which uses odds from the South Point and features three sports writers starting with a $10,000 bankroll, must look towards the National Invitational Tournament then so be it.
Belmont plus-7.5 at Clemson: $330 to win $300
The Bruins are playing inspired. They began looking like a team on a mission even before the NIT, where they’ve covered in both games and won by double digits.
Belmont has prevailed in nine of 10 games, covering in six of seven. The one outlier was the Ohio Valley Conference championship game where Eastern Kentucky upset Belmont by shooting 51 percent from the floor and 11-for-22 from three-point range.
Might want to double-check the stats, but Clemson probably hasn’t hit 11 shots from beyond the arc all season. The Tigers are that atrocious offensively.
They had to hit a buzzer beater to get by Illinois in the last round of the NIT as a 4-point favorite, the fourth time in the last six games Clemson has failed to cash a ticket.
With three senior starters, getting to Madison Square Garden for the NIT Final Four means more to Belmont than Clemson. Many lower-seeded NIT teams are burdened with a grueling travel schedule — see Southern Miss, which plays at Minnesota in tonight’s other quarterfinal matchup two days after winning in Missouri — but Belmont dodged that bet-against scenario.
The Bruins caught a break when Robert Morris upset Saint John’s in the first round, as they got to host Colonials in a second-round game last Friday. The 350-mile jaunt from Nashville to Clemson, S.C., is nothing.
Not for a team this motivated.
Standings: Bern (16-11, $10,890), Keefer (12-12, $9,297), Brewer (9-14-3, $6,510)