NCAAB Conference Tournaments Best Bets March 7: Three Plays From WAC and Big West Tournaments in Las Vegas

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A Western Athletic Conference logo is shown on the court prior to the championship game of the WAC basketball tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada. Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images/AFP

NCAAB Pick: UT Rio Grande Valley +7 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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 UT Rio Grande Valley (-110)
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Picks Summary:

  • UT Rio Grande Valley +7 (-110)
  • Cal State Bakersfield -1.5 (-110)
  • Stephen F. Austin -2 (-110)

There are two different conference tournaments taking place from various gyms in the Las Vegas area Tuesday night, and we have three picks combined from the WAC and Big West Tournaments with NCAAB odds from the top-rated online sportsbooks.  

Remember, fans from the Lone Star State who want to wager on this game should check out our top-rated Texas betting sites.

 UT Rio Grande Valley vs. Tarleton Texans 

Tuesday, March 7, 2023 – 09:00 PM EST at Michelob ULTRA Arena

The first round of the WAC Tournament begins with Tarleton (16-15, 6-12 WAC) the No. 7 seed, and UT Rio Grande Valley (15-16, 6-12 WAC) the No. 10. The winner probably loses to No. 2 Utah Valley in the quarterfinals on Thursday.  

These teams played two very close games in the regular season, with UT Rio Grande Valley winning 99-95 in OT at home on Feb. 25 and also 68-65 at Tarleton on Feb. 4. When two teams are pretty evenly matched, as these are, it’s tough to beat a club three times in one season. 

The Texans’ Freddy Hicks was named second-team All-WAC and Shamir Bogues to the All-WAC Defensive Team. Hicks started in all 20 of the games he appeared during the regular season while leading the team with 15.7 points per game on a 44.8 shooting percentage from the field. He is on pace to set the best scoring average in Tarleton’s Division I era.

Bogues led the Texans in rebounds (113) and is tied for third for steals (63) in a single season at Tarleton – which is coached by Billy Gillispie. Bogues is the only player in NCAA Division I with 30 points and 10+ steals in a single game this season and the only player to do so in at least the past 13 years. 

Vaqueros Led By Johnson

UTRGV senior Justin Johnson was named first-team All-WAC. Johnson is averaging 20.6 points on 44.2% shooting from the field plus 68.8% shooting from the line, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 30 games.

Johnson is 14 points away from entering the Top 10 in single-scoring in program history. He ranks fourth in free throw makes and third in free throw attempts. 

While I would expect Tarleton to win this time, 7 points is a baffling number considering the Texans were swept in the regular season.

  • Vaqueros are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games. 
  • Vaqueros are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning straight-up record. 

NCAAB Pick: UT Rio Grande Valley +7 (-110) at BetOnline 

Cal State Northridge Matadors vs. Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners 

Tuesday, March 7, 2023 – 09:00 PM EST at Dollar Loan Center 

Big West Tournament first-round game with CS Northridge (7-24, 3-13 Big West) the No. 9 seed, and CS Bakersfield the No. 8. The winner faces No. 1 UC Irvine in the quarterfinals Thursday.  

It’s the second straight year the teams will play in the first round of the Big West Tournament. Last year, the Roadrunners held the Matadors to their second-lowest point total of the 2021-22 season in a 58-45 win. The teams split the season series in 2022-23 with each side winning at home. 

A Closer Look

CSUN has lost six straight in the event with its last win during the semifinal round of the 2014 Big West Championship against Long Beach State (82-77). Sophomore guard Atin Wright heads into the postseason fourth in the Big West in scoring average at 17.0 ppg. CSUN has played the last 10 games without point guard Dionte Bostick due to injury. A transfer from Murray State, Bostick was having a career season with the Matadors, averaging 12.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.2 steals. 

CSUB played a majority of its schedule without its leading scorer Kaleb Higgins (13.1 points per game) due to injury. He has been out since Jan. 5. The Roadrunners lost their final five of the regular season but pushed top-seeded UC Irvine about to the limit on Saturday. UC Irvine came into the game with the second-highest scoring average in the Big West at 75.9 points per game. CSUB held the Anteaters to just 52 points, UCI’s lowest-scoring output of the season. 

While this is a neutral-site game, CSUN is 0-14 away from home. CSUB had six away wins.  

  • Matadors are 3-9 ATS in their last 12 games vs. a team with a losing straight-up record. 
  • Roadrunners are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a losing straight-up record. 

NCAAB Pick: Cal State Bakersfield -1.5 (-110) at BetOnline  

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Utah Tech Trailblazers vs. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 

Tuesday, March 7, 2023 – 11:00 PM EST at Michelob ULTRA Arena

WAC Tournament first round with Stephen F. Austin the No. 6 seed and Utah Tech the No. 11 with the winner facing No. 3 Southern Utah on Thursday in the quarterfinals. You may know Utah Tech by the school’s former name: Dixie State.

This is the school’s first time in the WAC Tournament as it used to be a Division II program and is still transitioning. If Utah Tech won this tournament, it would not be allowed to play in the NCAA Tournament because it’s Year 3 of a four-year transition. 

Senior point guard Cameron Gooden was voted second-team All-WAC. He finished the regular season ranked in the WAC’s top-10 in scoring (5th; 16.1 ppg), field goal percentage (2nd; .466), free throw percentage (6th; .800) and three-pointers made (7th; 50 – 1.92 3fgm/g).  Gooden has led or co-led the Trailblazers in scoring 14 times this season. Utah Tech is 4-13 in games not played on its home court this year. 

Defense Shines for ‘Jacks

Stephen F. Austin led the conference in field goal percentage at 47.4% and in turnovers forced per game with 18.1. Sadaidriene Hall, who will be making his return to the court from a minor injury for the tournament and was named second-team All-WAC, led the conference in field goal percentage with 59.6%.

The ‘Jacks are the third-best team in the nation when it comes turnovers forced per game, as seven Lumberjacks have recorded 20 steals on the season with AJ Cajuste leading the way with 45. 

The Trailblazers were thumped in the lone meeting with SFA, 85-72 on Jan. 12 at home. Hall had 20 points, 10 rebounds and four steals. 

NCAAB Pick: Stephen F. Austin -2 (-110) at BetOnline

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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.