California to Get the NCAA Basketball Odds Cover Friday

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, December 19, 2014 3:36 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 Friday.

 

In a matchup of two teams off to excellent starts on Friday, the home team from the major conference with the significantly stiffer defense should have the edge when the Eastern Washington Eagles (8-3, 3-3 away) pay a visit to those California Golden Bears (9-1, 6-0 home) at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, CA at 10:00 ET in a game available on the Pac-12 Network.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has California as a decided home favorite for this contest with the current line at -7 with odds of a positive +111.


California’s Only Loss vs. Texas
Eastern Washington has made waves this early season with its 8-3 record, especially when going into Bloomington and upsetting the Indiana Hoosiers! However the Eagles have lost two straight after an 8-1 start, and besides the shocker over Indiana, the next highest ranked team on the Pomeroy Ratings that they have beaten is 130th ranked San Francisco.

California has a legitimate chance to crack the AP Top 25 Poll with a win here and it is up to 52nd on Pomeroy after being 68th a couple of weeks ago. That is what happens when you go 9-1 with the Golden Bears only being the losing NCAA Basketball pick vs. a Texas Longhorns’ team ranked an identical ninth in both the AP and on Pomeroy. The Bears have two wins over the Pomeroy Top 100 with the best being over 39th ranked Syracuse.

Eastern Washington sits just outside that currently ranked 108th.


Stiff Bears’ Defense the Key
The formula for California’s success in its first season under former Tennessee Coach Cuonzo Martin has been play stiff defense and being relatively mistake free on offense. The Golden Bears are not shooting an outrageous percentage, although they are still a respectable 111th in effective field goal percentage at 50.5 percent, but they have not beaten themselves ranking an outstanding 12th in offensive turnover percentage at 15.4 percent.

That figure smashes the national average of 20.1 percent!

But defense has become Martin’s calling card. Not that the California defense was terrible under Mike Montgomery last season when it ranked 89th in the country in defensive efficiency and 66th in effective field goal percentage allowed, but Martin has taken the unit to a brand new level as the Golden Bears are 24th in defensive efficiency this season and an amazing 13th in effective field goal percentage allowed at a mere 40.9 percent.

Furthermore that defense has been solid at all points of the floor, ranking 30th in two-point defense (40.8 percent) and 26th in three-point defense (27.4 percent).


Eagles Not Sneaky Any More
Now Eastern Washington certainly has a solid club this season and they were a favorite among quite a few professional gamblers as they were undervalued to begin the year. Unfortunately the Eagles may now be becoming victims of their own early success as opponents are starting to take them more seriously and Eastern Washington is no longer sneaking up on teams.

That could be a factor in the current two-game losing streak, and while losing at Washington to begin the streak is not such a bad thing, the Eagles then followed that up by losing at Sam Houston State. Now with no disrespect intended toward Sam Houston, the fact is that the Bearkats are ranked 106th on Pomeroy, basically making them equal to the Eagles, and yet SHSU won that game convincingly 76-52.

Now Eastern Washington steps up again against a good Pac-12 team on the road and the Eagles are probably not accustomed to facing defenses like what California has to offer.


Pac-12 Kryptonite
Speaking of the Pac-12, that loss to the Washington Huskies continued a pattern that has seen Eastern Washington go 1-4 ATS in its last five meetings with teams from that power conference.

Although the Eagles are decided underdogs tonight, they seem to be heading in the wrong direction as of late and could also be looking forward to returning home Monday with this contest wrapping up a five-game road trip. That is just one more reason to like California to win by double-digits at home in Berkley on Friday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: California -7 (+111)