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Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Santa Barbara Gauchos Vegas 8 First Round - 3/28/16 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Santa Barbara Gauchos (18-13) at Northern Illinois Huskies (21-12)

College Basketball: Monday, March 28, 2016 at 5:30 pm (Mandalay Bay Event Center)

The Line: Northern Illinois Huskies +5 -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds

TV: CBSC

The Northern Illinois Huskies faceoff with the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in the inaugural Vegas 8 tourney.

The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos were supposed to be on the outside looking in at the Big West crown but were far better then expected over the last month of the regular season. The Gauchos won nine in a row before falling to Hawaii in the conference semifinals to finish at 18-13 overall with an 11-5 mark in the Big West to finish 4th. UCSB scored 71.5 points on 44.4% and allowed 67.5 points on 40% which was number 90 nationally and tells us this team leans on their defense to be competitive. The offense does have one of the best players in the Big West to lean on in Michael Bryson who averaged team highs of 18 points and six rebound while Gabe Vincent was a great compliment at 14 points.

Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Santa Barbara Gauchos Vegas 8 First Round - 3/28/16 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

USA TODAY Sports

The Northern Illinois Huskies didn’t have the opportunity to visit the NCAA’s but their year was a success nonetheless. The Huskies finished third in the MAC West at 9-9 but were 21-12 overall and a 20 win season is always special. NIU was far from the biggest offense in the conference at 72.7 points on 42.8% from the floor but the defense was better then average at 67 points allowed on 40%. The bottom line for Northern Illinois is to keep the scoreboard from getting out of hand and make some shots. Scoring was a team effort with center Marin Maric leading the way with 12 points and 8.5 rebounds on 48.6%. Travon Baker, Marshawn Wilson and Aaric Armstead gave the offense around eleven points apiece so the opposition couldn’t key on any one player.

Both teams have been solid against the number but my biggest worry in backing either team would be what effect the long layoff will have. Going strictly by what I saw at season’s end the Gauchos were tearing it up and if they play close to that I’ll back them but I have two weeks to look at this…

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Santa Barbara -5 // check back for update

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