Monarchs to hound Gauchos into submission?

Monarchs to hound Gauchos into submission

Self-inflicted wounds nearly shortened Old Dominion’s stay in Las Vegas, but the Monarchs hope to have stabilized matters entering the Vegas 16 tournament’s second stage.

ODU and UC Santa Barbara collide in tonight’s first semifinal, with a 9 p.m. ET tip at the Mandalay Bay Event Center. Oddsmakers from online sports book BetDSI prefer Jeff Jones' group as a 2.5-point favorite. The over/under total sits at 124.

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After frittering away a double-digit first-half lead and letting Tennessee Tech pull ahead with 11:35 to play last night, the Monarchs appeared to be on the ropes. Then they staged a 14-1 run to retake control and cruise beyond the opening round. Three players – Trey Freeman, Aaron Bacote and Zoran Talley – scored at least 14 points in the 75-59 victory.

Matters weren’t necessarily dicey for the Gauchos, but they also received a representative effort from Northern Illinois. UC Santa Barbara ultimately prevailed, 70-63, as Gabe Vincent hit the 20-point mark. Even the star guard wasn’t immune from team-wide struggles from deep, though. The Gauchos converted just six of 22 3-point attempts.

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Old Dominion’s potent post play could make it inviting for Vincent and company to camp out from the perimeter again. The Monarchs simply don’t mess around down low, and such brute force as well as mental fortitude will secure a date in tomorrow’s championship contest.

TUESDAY NCAA FREE PICK: OLD DOMINION -2.5

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