Cash With This Pair Of Underdogs in College Hoops Friday

Jay Pryce

Friday, January 5, 2018 1:51 PM UTC

Friday, Jan. 5, 2018 1:51 PM UTC

A pair of underdogs should gather some betting interest Friday night, as Northwestern catches 6 points at Penn State and James Madison are 8-point pups at Hofstra. Check out where the value lays in backing both here.

Northwestern vs Penn State (-6)

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Free NCAAB Pick: Under 139 & Northwestern +6.5Best Line Offered: at Heritage

Northwestern (10-6 SU, 5-8 ATS) is coming off a 70-55 home loss to Nebraska. Cold shooting plagued the team in its first game in over four years without point guard Bryant McIntosh. The senior leader is out for at least two weeks with a knee injury. The Wildcats sunk just 19 of 65 (29.2 percent) field goal attempts, only the ninth time in the last 11 years shooting less than 30 percent from the floor. Should bettors expect better Friday night? Four of these contests have come with Chris Collins coaching the team. Northwestern averages 62.5 points on 38.4 percent shooting in the follow-up effort.

What’s interesting with the aforementioned situation is that the Cats are 3-1 SU and ATS, twice winning outright as double-digit underdogs (Indiana & Purdue, 2014). The team has leaned on strong defense in this spot, allowing 58.0 points per game on 32.4 percent shooting. It ranks 95th in the country in adjusted efficiency per KenPom.

Penn State (11-5 SU, 6-5 ATS) is even better than Northwestern defensively, raking 17th in efficiency nationally. It allows 68.2 points per game on 42.5 percent opponent shooting, and has not surrendered more than 75 points at home in its last 15 contests. Producing turnovers is one big strength. The Nittany Lions lead the Big Ten in steals with 145 on the year, junior guard Josh Reaves swiping the most with 2.47 per game.

The most surprising aspect of Penn State is its offensive improvement from last year. It has put up 80 points seven times this year, equaling the most meeting the threshold for a season under head coach Pat Chambers.

The Cats can’t play any worse offensively than they did against Nebraska, and will work to find their strengths without McIntosh. Under Collins, Northwestern is 11-5 ATS on the road after losing at home to a conference opponent, covering a 10.4 average line by 7.8 points per game. It has won four in a row at Bryce Jordan Center, buy has never won five straight road contests versus a Big Ten opponent as a program. Penn State may win and break the streak, but the Cats challenge throughout. Defense wins out for both teams. Lean the ‘under’ and take the points (+6.5) with Northwestern for your best bet.

James Madison vs Hofstra (-8)

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Free NCAAB Pick: James Madison +8Best Line Offered: at Heritage

Hofstra (8-6 SU, 4-6 ATS) hosts CAA rivals James Madison (4-11 SU, 5-8 ATS) in its first home game in over a month. The Pride have logged a brutal schedule, ranking 47th toughest per KenPom. They’ve played Villanova, Auburn, and Clemson and a host of above-average opponents on their own hardwood.

Hofstra hangs tough offensively, led by Justin Wright-Foreman, Rokas Gustys, and Eli Pemberton. The trio account for 49.4 points and 18.9 rebounds per game. They also are the only players averaging more than 23 minutes per game. Gustys, a 6-foot-9 senior forward, is the centerpiece, expected to reach the 1,000-point mark tonight for his collegiate career with 990 entering.

JMU got off to an identical 4-11 start through its first 15 games last season, but faired okay in Colonial Conference play, going 8-12 SU and 11-8-1 ATS overall. The Dukes are 0-2 SU and ATS in 2017 with a pair of home losses to Northeastern (81-70) and William and Mary (84-76).

Defense is the Dukes’ downfall, yielding 108.8 points per 100 possessions. In 12 games to hit the college basketball oddsboard, JMU gifts 80.3 points per game on 47.4 percent shooting. A young and undersized backcourt struggles to cover the arc, allowing a 38.9 percent opponent 3-point rate.

Hofstra is just as bad on defense, ranking 244th in efficiency nationally. JMU can put up points against leaky units, averaging 77.0 on 42.7 percent from the floor in four games against those surrendering more than 75.0 per night. This includes matchups against Charlotte, Florida, and William & Mary. Hofstra enters allowing 77.8 per contest.

The Pride are just 8-20 ATS when tipping off home favorites in conference matchups behind head coach Joe Mihalich all-time. When spotting more than 4 points, the record plummets to 3-17 ATS (12-8 SU). Hofstra just doesn’t own the shot-stopping capabilities to consistently bury teams when expected. Take the points with the Dukes (+8) as your best bet.

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