Big Sky, Big Value: First-Round Matchups Ripe for Picking

Jay Pryce

Tuesday, March 6, 2018 2:01 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 2:01 PM UTC

A trio of Big Sky Tournament games presents NCAAB betting value Tuesday. Check out our best bets for Northern Arizona vs. Northern Colorado, Southern Utah vs. Idaho State, and Sacramento St. vs. Portland State.

Tuesday College Basketball: Big Sky TournamentNorthern Arizona vs. Northern ColoradoFree NCAAB Pick: Northern Colorado -12.5Best Line Offered: Intertops

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Northern Arizona (5-26 SU, 13-11 ATS) averages 39.6 percent from the field against Big Sky opponents, posting 65.8 points per game. In order for the Lumberjacks to stay remotely competitive in this matchup, they will have to find a way to hit their shots. The squad is 1-23 SU (11-11-1 ATS) when draining less than 45 percent this year.

Northern Colorado’s (20-11 SU, 17-10 ATS) defense is better then advertised, ranking 104th nationally in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency ratings. It surrenders 76.2 points per game, due in large part to playing at a lightning-fast tempo (39th in the country). The Bears have held Northern Arizona to 67.3 points per game on 41.6-percent shooting in three matchups under head coach Jeff Linder. For my NCAAB picks, Northern Colorado has a superb defensive effort and wins 83-65, covering the double-digit spread on the college basketball odds board.

Southern Utah vs. Idaho StateFree NCAAB Pick: Over 149.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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Don’t expect a strong defensive showing in this matchup. Southern Utah (11-18 SU, 14-12 ATS) has ranked last or next to last in Big Sky scoring defense in each of the past five seasons. This year, it surrenders 79.4 points per game on 46.4-percent shooting to conference foes. The Thunderbirds, 1-4 SU and ATS in their last five games, have yielded 74 points or more in each (83.8 average).

Idaho State’s (14-15 SU, 16-9 ATS) shot stopping isn’t much better. The Bengals, -3 favorites on the college basketball odds board, rank 257th in the country in adjusted scoring efficiency, yielding 75.8 points per game in conference play.

Idaho State has shown it will run with Southern Utah under head coach Bill Evans; the latter plays at the 30th-quickest pace in the country. The two have met three times with Todd Simon in charge of the Thunderbirds. The combined scores in each: 162, 164, 171. The Bengals are draining a whopping 49.2 percent from behind the arc overall. Look for Idaho State to push 80 points with Utah State within striking distance. Bengals win 79-76. Bet on "over" 149.5 points with your NCAAB picks.

Sacramento St. vs. Portland State (-6.5)Free NCAAB Pick: Under 154.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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There aren’t two teams in the Big Sky that clash more in style and approach than these two. Portland State (19-12 SU, 16-12 ATS) is run-and-gun from the tip, ranking sixth nationally in tempo. It looks to break constantly, nearly a third (28.6 percent) of its shot attempts coming in transition. The Vikings, -6 favorites on the college hoops odds board, are ready to run all over Reno:

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— Portland State Men’s Basketball (@psuviksMBB) March 5, 2018

Sacramento State (7-24 SU, 12-26 ATS), meanwhile, is extra cautious and methodical, ranking 302nd out of 351 D-I teams in pace. Head coach Brian Katz demands his defense take away open looks and easy opportunities, evident by a respectable 0.507 opponent assist-to-field goals made rate. This figure is boosted by the fact it allows the sixth-fewest fast breaks in the nation at 16.4 percent. Win or lose, the Hornets will not allow the Vikings to get behind them. This will keep the final tally "under" the opening 154.5 total, so go low with your NCAAB picks. Portland wins 76-71.

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