The Air Force Falcons (26-8) and Clemson Tigers (24-10) travel to New York City to play in the semifinals of the 2007 Mastercard NIT on Tuesday, March 27. The game, played at Madison Square Garden, is set to tip-off at 9 p.m. (ET) and will be televised nationally by ESPN2. Air Force earned its trip to NYC with a dramatic, 52-51, victory over DePaul at Clune Arena last Wednesday while Clemson beat Syracuse 74-70 at home in Littlejohn Coliseum.
The betting line (offshore) on this game varies depending on the sportsbook. While the majority of books show Air Force as a -1.0 favorite, i.e. BetUS.com and Sportbet.com , mega sportsbook BoDog.com has the game as a PICK . Most books agree on the 123 ½ point total.
Prior to the quarterfinal game with Syracuse, Clemson defeated E. Tennessee State 64-57 in the first round followed by a 89-68 win over the Ole Miss Rebels in round two. The Tigers failed to cover the -16-point betting line ATS against MTSU but gave backers an easy cash-in as a -5 ½ point favorite against Ole Miss. The Tigers covered ATS the -4.0 point line against Syracuse. The total went OVER in 2-of-3 NIT games and 7-of-10 games Clemson played.
In the quarterfinal game against Syracuse, K.C. Rivers scored a career high 29 points in the win over Syracuse, including 21 in the first half. That was the third most points in a postseason game (NIT or NCAA) in school history. Rivers has averaged 19.3 points per game in the three NIT games. Clemson is 12-1 this season when Rivers scores at least 16 points, 23-4 with 10 or more. Point guard Vernon Hamilton has scored in double figures in 16 of his last 18 games.
In the three previous NIT games that Air Force played, all at home, it went 2-1 ATS with the total going OVER in 2-of-3 contests. The Falcons covered -14 points against Austin Peay in round one and -6 ½ against Georgia in the second round. Against DePaul, the Falcons narrowly escaped with the SU win but didn’t cash for backers ATS as a -7.0 favorite.
Against DePaul, the Falcons got a bucket from Jacob Burtschi with 7.7 seconds left to edge ahead of DePaul to send the Falcons to New York.
Air Force enjoys playing in the thin air of Colorado Springs and has a distinct home court advantage there; however, Clemson should have the advantage in New York with a deeper bench and should cover as a pick. The total should go OVER in this game too and is probably the best bet. Point-Spreads.com pick: OVER 123 ½.