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North Carolina A&T vs. Liberty - CIT First Round - 3/12/18 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Liberty Flames (20-14) at North Carolina A&T Aggies (20-14)

College Basketball: Monday, March 12, 2018 at 6:00 pm (Vines Center)

The Line: Liberty Flames -11.5 -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds

TV: CBSC

We have some CIT first round action on Monday as the North Carolina A&T Aggies take on the Liberty Flames in a college basketball matchup. 

The North Carolina A&T Aggies come into this one with a 20-14 overall record, finishing with the most overall victories in the MEAC, including an 11-5 mark in conference play, good enough for the #4 seed in the conference, recording MEAC tournament wins over Delaware State in overtime and Norfolk State before a 96-86 semifinals loss to top-seeded Hampton. In that semifinal loss, Femi Olujobi led NC A&T with 22 points while Aaren Edmead added 20 points with 4 threes and Denzel Keyes had 17 points with a team-high 14 rebounds for the double-double. Kameron Langley chipped in 15 points with a team-high 7 assists and 4 steals. Olujobi leads North Carolina A&T with 16.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while Langley leads the Aggies in assists with 5.2 assists per game this season. As a team, North Carolina A&T is scoring 75.6 points per game on 46.4% hooting from the field, 30% from behind the arc and 71.3% from the foul line this season.

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North Carolina A&T vs. Liberty - CIT First Round - 3/12/18 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

USA TODAY Sports

The Liberty Flames got into the CIT with an identical 20-14 overall record, including a 9-9 mark in Big South conference play. The Flames received the #5 seed in the Big South tournament, pulling off a couple of upsets with wins over #4 seed Campbell and top-seeded UNC-Asheville before falling to eventual tournament champion Radford on a buzzer-beater three in the championship game by a final score of 55-52. Scottie James led Liberty in that game with 20 points along with 13 rebounds while Lovell Cabbil added 15 points and a team-high 7 assists as the lone pair of Flames to finish in double figures scoring in the loss. James leads Liberty with an average of 13.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game while Cabbil leads the Flames in assists with 3.5 assists per game this season. As a team, Liberty is scoring 71.2 points per game on 46.4% shooting from the field, 37.4% from behind the arc and 79.2% from the foul line, the 5th-best free throw percentage in the country. The Flames are also stout defensively, giving up the 9th-fewest points per game in the country, allowing just 63.6 points per game this season. 

North Carolina A&T is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a loss while the over is 5-2 in their last 7 road games against a team with a winning home record. Liberty is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games and 7-17 ATS in their last 24 non-conference matchups while the under is 4-1 in their last 5 games overall. 

Games like this are hard to call because it could genuinely go either way. The difference for me here is that if this game comes down to the wire, depending on the line, free throws could play a major part and the Flames have the advantage at the charity stripe. The Flames are also stronger defensively, however I'm not sure that the talent gap is that wide that it warrants laying double digits with the Flames. The Aggies are still an extremely capable group, and I think are more than able to keep this one within single digits, so I'll take the points with North Carolina A&T here.

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