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Cal Poly clashes with red-hot Texas Southern Wednesday
By: Robert Livingston - StatFox
Published: 3/19/2014  at  4:49:00 AM
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NCAA Tournament - First Round
University of Dayton Arena - Dayton, OH
Tip-off: Wednesday, 6:40 p.m. ET
Line: Cal Poly -4, Total: 129.5

No. 16 seeds Cal Poly and Texas Southern will play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Wednesday night for the chance to take down undefeated Wichita State in the Round of 64.

The Mustangs snuck into the Big Dance by winning the Big West Tournament, overcoming a season in which they finished 13-19 SU (10-19-1 ATS). They went 4-9 SU (3-7-1 ATS) against non-conference foes and just 6-10 SU (5-11 ATS) in the Big West regular season before beating UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge in the Big West Tournament. They were the lowest seed to ever win that tournament. That helped make them 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS at neutral sites this season. The Tigers finished the season on a nine-game SU winning streak, though they had only six lined games all season, going 2-4 ATS. They went 4-1 SU (2-1 ATS) in neutral site games and earned their bid to the Big Dance by winning the SWAC Tournament. These two teams have never faced each other. Although Cal Poly is a winless 0-10 ATS this season after playing a game where both teams scored 65 points or less, the team benefits from the fact that underdogs of 3.5 to 9.5 points, after 4+ straight wins, when seeded 13 through 16 in the NCAA Tournament are just 15-41 ATS (27%) since 1997.

Which team will advance to the Round of 64? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts opened the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday with a 3-0 ATS mark, making them a stellar 60% ATS (274-185-16) in college basketball Best Bets this season. StatFox Brian is on an amazing Best Bets run of 23-3-2 (89% ATS) since Feb. 6, 32-6-3 (84% ATS) since Jan. 17, and 74% ATS (57-20-3) since Nov. 26 to give him a robust 70% ATS (64-27-4) record in Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave is 65% ATS (40-22-1) since in Best Bets Dec. 18 and 61% ATS (57-37-2) this season, while StatFox Scott is 68% ATS (13-6-2) since Feb. 16 and 58% ATS (53-38-4) for the season. StatFox Gary is 60% ATS (48-32) on Best Bets since Nov. 22 and 57% ATS (52-40-2) for the season, while StatFox Zach 64% ATS (7-4) since March 2.

Cal Poly ranks near the bottom in the nation in nearly every offensive category, scoring a paltry 63.2 PPG (327th in Div. I) on 41.0% FG (319th in nation). But the Mustangs give up only 63.4 PPG (36th in Div. I) on 43.2% FG (154th in nation) to their opponents, while getting outrebounded by minus-1.3 RPG. Their one consistent bright spot is 6-foot-7 senior SF Chris Eversley (13.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG), the teamís top scorer and rebounder. Heíll have his hands full, however, against the talented Texas Southern frontcourt, so heíll need help from guys like SF Joel Awich (4.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.0 BPG) and 6-foot-9 PF Brian Bennett (6.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG), who is the tallest player on the roster. Swingman David Nwaba (11.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG) can also contribute on the glass and is more of an interior scorer despite his 6-foot-4 frame. Senior PG Jamal Johnson (4.6 PPG, 2.8 APG) is the teamís top passer and has committed just 36 turnovers in 32 games this season, though he struggles to score, making only 36% FG. Senior SG Kyle Odister (9.3 PPG) is the teamís top perimeter scorer, pouring home 2.3 threes per game on a 37% clip, going 7-for-13 from long distance in the Big West Tournament.

Texas Southern boasts a solid offense that averages 76.2 PPG (50th in Div. I) on 46.2% shooting (78th in nation) with 14.1 APG (79th in Div. I). The Tigers' 36.9 RPG ranks 75th in the nation, outrebounding their opponents by +3.2 RPG. Defensively they give up 73.7 PPG (271st in nation) on 44.8% FG (239th in Div. I), including 35.9% from three-point range. Their offense is really a one-man show with C Aaric Murray (21.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG) presenting one of the most dangerous scoring options in the nation. The 6-foot-10 senior isnít afraid to shoot from anywhere on the floor and is making 49% FG while swatting 2.6 BPG. Murray is helped in the frontcourt by 6-foot-7 senior SF Jose Rodriguez (11.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG), who is also a solid rebounder that can shoot from long range (40% threes). DíAngelo Scott (7.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG) is counted on for his production on the glass more than his points, but he shoots a hefty 60% from the floor this season. Although senior swingman D.D. Scarver (13.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG) is coming off a horrible game in the SWAC title game over Prairie View with zero points (0-for-2 FG) in 20 minutes, he and PG Madarious Gibbs (9.2 PPG, 5.2 APG) comprise a solid backcourt. Gibbs has connected on 51% FG and 36% threes this season, and averaged 14.0 PPG (48% FG) and 6.0 APG in the team's three-game run in the conference tournament. Diminutive 5-foot-9 senior PG Ray Penn Jr. (8.6 PPG, 2.8 APG) can be lethal from beyond the arc, hitting 44% threes, including 9-of-16 in the SWAC Tournament.

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