Central Florida to Cover NCAA Basketball Odds at Houston

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, January 6, 2015 3:09 PM UTC

Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015 3:09 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 Tuesday.



The underdogs seem to hold good value in what potentially looks like a tight battle Tuesday night inside the AAC when those Central Florida Knights (7-6, 0-3 away) pay a visit to the Houston Cougars (7-6, 5-2 home) at Hofheinz Pavilion in Houston, TX at 7:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPNews.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Central Florida as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +7 with odds of -110.

Both Teams Winless in Conference
Neither of these clubs have gotten off to a good start in the AAC with both sporting 0-2 conference marks, although at least UCF has been competitive in its two losses. The Knights were nipped 56-54 at home in their conference opener by a Tulsa team ranked 76th overall on the Pomeroy Ratings and then went on the road and fell 84-78 to 61st ranked Temple, with UCF covering the point spread in both losses.

The Cougars also lost to Tulsa but by a much bigger margin 72-54, albeit on the road. Their other conference loss had an almost identical final score as Houston was a losing NCAA Basketball pick 73-54 at a Memphis team ranked 86th on Pomeroy. These teams have also had similar schedules overall with Houston facing an SOS ranked 348th by Pomeroy and UCF facing an SOS ranked 341st, and with both teams 7-6 it makes this rather large line seem curious.

Baby Knights
Perhaps the experience edge that Houston possesses is being overcompensated for with this point spread as the two leading UCF scorers are both freshmen in B.J. Taylor (14.2 points per game) and Adonys Henriquez (11.9) and the Knights’ starting lineup these days consists of two freshmen, two sophomores and one junior. And this young squad is still winless in three true road games after all.

Still, the effort at Temple shows that the young Knights will not be intimidated on the road, especially with Houston not really known for having a humongous home court advantage in what is primarily a football town, and UCF has shot the ball well regardless of the venue with a nice effective field goal percentage of 50.2 percent, thanks to ranking 48th in the country in three-point shooting at 37.8 percent.

The freshman backcourt of Taylor and Henriquez has been especially lethal from three-point land with Taylor shooting 46.3 percent from beyond the arc and Henriquez at 45.6 percent. The expected edge that UCF is expected to have in three-point buckets is certainly a nice trait to have in a decided underdog like this, and remember that the Knights’ three-point shooting has not suffered on the road, quite contrarily improving to 40.8 percent.

Check Out the NCAA Basketball Picks of the Day for Tuesday Night Matchups

Houston Chuckers?
Speaking of three-point shooting, a whopping 47.7 percent of Houston’s field goal attempts are three-point tries and 40.7 percent of their its overall scoring comes from beyond the arc. The problem with that is that the Cougars are just 192nd in three-point percentage at 33.2 percent overall, a figure that actually drops to 32.0 percent at home.

Sure there are some unconscious days when the those three-point shots fall for the Cougars such as when they may have been responsible for SMU not making the NCAA Tournament by upsetting the Mustangs in the AAC Tournament last season thanks to a 47.4 percent three-point barrage with many of the same players this veteran team has today, but those performances have been few and far between.

And because the Cougs hoist so many long range shots without the needed accuracy, they lag badly behind UCF in effective field goal percentage ranking only 248th at 46.7 percent while also ranking 213th in offensive efficiency. As bad as that is, the Houston defense has been worse ranking 226th in efficiency.

Not Trustworthy as Favorites
Believe it or not this is the first time that Houston has been favored in any game this season. Then again, only six of the Cougars’ 13 games have been lined games due to their easy schedule comprised of many non-lined teams, and they have only had one lined home game so far, which they lost outright but covered in a 75-73 loss to Boise State as double-digit home dogs.

Still, being favored and especially by this much is uncharted waters for the Cougars and UCF has shown enough in its two AAC games to suggest the Knights are fully capable of staying inside this relatively large number in Houston on Tuesday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Central Florida +7 (-110)

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