Alabama State the NCAA Basketball Pick in Utah Tourney

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 8:55 PM UTC

Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014 8:55 PM UTC

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Wednesday.


The University of Utah Thanksgiving Tournament is a three-day round robin tournament, and in the nightcap of the opening night Wednesday doubleheader, the Alabama State Hornets (1-1, 0-1 away/neutral) take on North Dakota (1-2, 0-2 away/neutral) at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, UT with a scheduled tip-off of 10:30 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Alabama State as a tiny underdog for this contest with the current line at +1½ with odds of -106.

Hornets are Well Rested
Alabama State opened the season with a 105-64 demolition of Auburn-Montgomery, but as impressive as that outing was, it did not mean much vs. an NAIA program. However, the Hornets came back and covered the spread in SEC territory in a 97-79 loss at Arkansas, and they are certainly well rested for this contest with that game having taken place 10 days ago.

North Dakota is 1-2 with its only win also coming vs. a sub-division school in Mayville St. back home in Grand Forks, but it had defensive issue while being the losing NCAA Basketball picks in both of its games vs. Division I competition in Northern Iowa and South Dakota State, with both of those efforts coming on the road. North Dakota finished 308th in the country in defensive efficiency last season according to the Pomeroy Ratings and those issues do not look resolved.

Alabama State Three-Point Threats…
Alabama State was able to hang with a good Arkansas team currently ranked 25th in the country with excellent three-point shooting as the Hornets shot 50 percent beyond the arc (9-for-18), which is no easy feat vs. the Razorbacks’ “40 minutes of Hell” defense which has stifled many of the more elite basketball programs in recent years.

And that was after going 10-for-23 beyond the arc in the season opener, leaving Alabama State 12th in the entire country in three-point percentage at 46.3 percent with the 92.0 points ranking eighth in the land in the early going.

The Hornets are generally considered the favorites to win the SWAC this season returning all five starters from a team that finished 19-13 overall and 12-6 in SWAC play last year, led by the stat-filling guard Jamel Waters, and while the SWAC may be considered the weakest conference in the country, the current 278th ranking for Alabama State is actually 26 spots higher than 304th ranked North Dakota.

…vs. North Dakota Weak Perimeter Defense
And we are not sure there is much that North Dakota can do to stop Waters and the other fine Alabama State shooters, as it is 310th in defensive efficiency while allowing an ungodly effective field goal percentage of 50.5 percent, ranking 242nd in two-point defense and 193rd in three-point defense.

North Dakota comes out of the Big Sky Conference, a conference that made some waves a few nights ago when Eastern Washington went into Indiana and upset the Hoosiers. However, Eastern Washington was a preseason consensus pick to finish second in the conference behind Weber State, while North Dakota was picked to finish near the bottom of the conference after losing 30.9 points per game from last year’s squad in Troy Huff and Aaron Anderson.

And obviously the leaky defense is simply not good enough to make up for the loss of that much scoring production.

What’s in a Name?
Incidentally, as an aside, you may have noticed that North Dakota is the only team in Division I without a school nickname after being forced to stop using the Fighting Sioux, and any hopes the school may have had of winning the right to retain the name may have been dashed by some racially charged incidents on campus a few months ago, leading to the development of a task force to select a new nickname and logo.

But back to matters on the court, no matter what you call North Dakota, its struggling perimeter defense makes the sharp-shooters from Alabama State our call in the Utah Thanksgiving Tournament on Wednesday.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Alabama State +1½ (-106)

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