Bradley Braves the NCAA Basketball Pick as Big Dogs

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 3:48 PM GMT

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 Tuesday.

 

The road underdogs from the Missouri Valley Conference could be undervalued Tuesday night when the Bradley Braves (3-5, 0-1 away) pay a visit to the Kansas State Wildcats (4-4, 3-0 home) at Fred Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, KS at 8:00 ET in a game available on ESPN3.

The point spread at Bet365 has Bradley as a double-digit underdog for this contest with the current line at +17½ with odds of -110.


Wildcat Defense a Concern
Kansas State comes off of a 20-13 season that led to an NCAA Tournament appearance where the Wildcats were quickly knocked out by eventual national finalist Kentucky in the second round, but they may have to plug up holes in what has uncharacteristically been a leaky defense this young season if they want to make a return trip to the Big Dance. Kansas State is a miserable 301st in the nation in effective field goal percentage against at 53.9 percent.

Bradley cannot play much worse than it did while being the losing NCAA Basketball pick 73-45 to Memphis on Saturday when the Braves shot a dismal 27.1 percent from the floor and committed a season-high 20 turnovers. It was an outing that prompted Coach Geno Ford to thrash his team’s effort to the press, as he questioned the clubs toughness and referred to his guard play as “atrocious.”


Not the Same since Arizona
The Wildcats got off to a 3-1 start this season, but they have simply not been the same since giving it all they had vs. the third ranked Arizona Wildcats in Maui but coming up four points short 72-68. That began their current skid that has seen them lose three of their last four games with the only win coming vs. a Nebraska-Omaha squad currently ranked 208th overall on the Pomeroy Ratings.

The main culprit has been the breakdown in the defense, much to the chagrin of Coach Bruce Weber. You see, defense has been a staple in Manhattan ever since Webber succeeded Frank Martin as coach two seasons ago, and the Cats were 26th in the country in effective field goal percentage last year at 45.3 percent, as well as 18th in defensive efficiency. Thus the aforementioned drop in eFG% allowed is disturbing, as is the plunge to 111th in defensive efficiency.

That makes Kansas State vulnerable when favored by a shipload of points like it is tonight. Most recently the Wildcats were nipped 65-64 at Tennessee on Saturday by a Volunteers’ team that lost most of its team from last year and is ranked 103rd on Pomeroy, as the Kansas State offense did not show up either in that game shooting 40.8 percent from the field.


Looking to Bounce Back from Awful Outing
Bradley is not a world-beater by any means but it was coming off of a nice 11-point win over Central Michigan prior to laying that egg in Memphis and prompting Coach Ford’s tirade after the game. Do not lose sight of the fact though that Memphis can shut down even the best of teams as it ranks 39th in defensive efficiency, so maybe Ford was simply trying to spark a reaction from his team tonight. Will that reaction be favorable?

Well, we do not think Bradley is as bad as it looked against the Tigers (nor can it be) after shooting 13-for-48 from the field and being totally reckless with the basketball, leading to the season low 45 points scored. So we do look for a better effort tonight and it is certainly nice having this 17½-point cushion to work with.

As for how the Braves could stay close, three-point shooting and free throws could be crucial. Bradley may not be a great three-point shooting team at 35.6 percent but that is still above the national average of 33.6 percent, while the struggles of the Kansas State defense have stretched out to the perimeter where the Wildcats are 291st in three-point defense at 37.7 percent. Also Bradley gets to the foul line often ranking an excellent 13th nationally in FTA/FGA percentage.


Past Success vs. the Big 12
Finally, the Braves have not been intimidated by taking in Big 12 teams in the past, in fact going 37-26 straight up all-time vs. that power conference in the regular season and post-season combined!

Thus look for Bradley to keep this game competitive enough to stay inside the enormous point spread when it visits Kansas State on Tuesday.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Bradley +17½ (-110)