Murray State Racers vs. Florida State Seminoles Pick
Murray State Racers (28-4 SU, 20-10 ATS) vs. Florida State Seminoles (28-7 SU, 16-18-1 ATS)
When: Saturday, March 23, 2019 – 6:10 p.m. ET
Where: XL Center, Hartford, Connecticut
Point Spread: MURR +4.5 / FSU -4.5 (SportsBetting.ag)
Total: O/U 144.5
Last Time Out: Murray State beat Marquette 83-64; Florida State beat Vermont 76-69
Scouting the Racers:
The Racers may be a 12-seed, but after their first-round performance, they are likely the most talked about team in the tournament so far. What many people believed would be a fierce battle between Murray State’s Ja Morant and Marquette’s Markus Howard, ended up being all about the Morant show. Did I mention that Morant only shot the ball 9 times and still managed to have one of the best performances in a tournament game ever? Well when you are as good as Ja Morant, scoring is not your highest priority but making sure you contribute any way possible is.
Scouting the Seminoles:
Florida State used a huge second half to avoid the upset by the 13th seeded Vermont Catamounts. Now they face an even tougher test as they take the court against NBA prospect, Ja Morant and his Murray State Racers. The Seminoles allowed Vermont to shoot 50% from the three-point line, hence why this game was much closer than it was supposed to be. Look for the Seminoles to game plan around Morant, because if he does what he did to Marquette, the Seminoles hopes of a Sweet 16 berth will be slim.
Notable Betting Trends:
Morant and the Racers have recently been playing very well against the number. They have posted an 8-2 record against the spread in their last 10 games and have covered in back to back games. It should also be noted that the Racers have only been a dog in 5 games this season and are 5-0 against the spread in this situation. Florida State, on the other hand, has struggled as a favorite and are 11-15 when they are laying the points.
Keys to the Game for Murray State:
The easy answer would be Ja Morant, so I am going to go with the supporting cast of the Racers. While Morant may look like a one-man team, he will need his teammates to be just as sharp if they want to beat this Florida State squad. In their blowout over Marquette, a total of four guys scored in double-digits, and they all shot 50% or higher from the field. Starting of course with Morant, he scored 17 on 5 of 9 shooting. KJ Williams scored 17 points on 8 of 10 shooting. The leading scorer was Tevin Brown, and he scored 19 points on 6 of 12 shooting. Lastly was Shaq Buchanon, who scored 14 and shot 6 of 12. So, you see what this team is capable of when pretty much their team can contribute in several ways. Now I am going to be honest, just from the first game alone, this team is looking like they can be this years’ Loyola-Chicago. As shown against the Golden Eagles, they can knock down the three, they have a star player, and they defend very well. Unless the Racers just come out flat, they have an excellent chance to advance to the second week.
Keys to the Game for Florida State:
For the Seminoles to win this game and cover, they are going to have to play much better defensively. This will all start with their perimeter defense. As mentioned before, the Seminoles allowed way too many threes against Vermont an almost were bounced because of it. However, one positive sign was that they forced 16 turnovers, which ended up leading to a lot of fast break points. Now Murray State is a much quicker team than Vermont, so Florida State is going to have to focus on transition defense. That and doing whatever they can to frustrate Ja Morant will be vital for them. Whether this means double teaming or even triple teaming him, the Seminoles must find a way to limit the playmaker.
Matt’s Pick for Murray State vs. Florida State:
MyBookie has the Seminoles laying 4.5 points and has the total set at 144.5. With how good the Racers looked on Thursday, they are my pick in this second-round game. Look for Morant to have another monster performance and help his team edge out the Seminoles for a spot in the Sweet 16. I am hopping on the Racers bandwagon for this one and will take the points.