The 2015-16 NCAA Basketball season kicks off Friday, and there may be a false favorite on the night portion of he opening card with the underdogs from CS Fullerton having value.
It is opening day of the 2015-16 NCAA Basketball season, and their could be good underdog value in a less than marquee late matchup Friday night when the underdog CS Fullerton Titans of the Big West Conference pay a visit to the Loyola Marymount Lions of the WCC at Gersten Pavilion in Los Angeles, CA at 10:00 ET.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has CS Fullerton as a modest road underdog for this contest with the current line at +3 with odds of -106.
Two Teams Picked Toward Bottom of Leagues
CS Fullerton is actually picked to finish last on the Big West in the preseason poll as this is a very young team that finished 9-22 overall and 1-15 in the conference last year, but at the same time the Titans gave maximum effort and had quite a few closes losses, including losing twice by six points or less to a UC Irvine team that went on to lose by just two points to Louisville in the NCAA Tournament and the Titans now have some good guard talent transferring in.
Loyola Marymount is a consensus pick to finish in the bottom three of the WCC in the preseason after the Lions went 8-23 as NCAA Basketball picks overall last year and 4-14 inside the conference, but unfortunately we feel that prediction is pretty accurate as we see far less upside with this team than we do with Fullerton, especially with Evan Payne jumping ship and transferring to Long Beach State.
Potentially Good Fullerton Backcourt
Besides the two aforementioned tough battles with the Big West Tournament Champions from UC Irvine, Fullerton also played a UC Davis team that won the regular season title at 14-2 tough in another six-point loss last season, so this team did show some flashes and now seems to have an even brighter future with incoming transfer guards Malcolm Brooks from Pepperdine and Tre Coggins from Air Force, with the latter being a former Juco standout.
When you couple those transfers with incoming freshmen guards Khalil Ahmad, Kyle Allman and Jamal Smith, the Titans now have good (but admittedly raw) depth in the backcourt with five good-sized guards. That could lead to a faster pace this year after the team ranked 101st in the country in tempo rating in 2014-15, and if you believe the common belief that guard play in the most important position in college basketball, then the Titans will surprise some folks.
A Major Payne
As for the Loins, Payne was without question the best all-around player on the team last season, leading the squad with his 18.0 points per game and he was fourth in the country both in percentage of possessions used and percentage of shots taken for his team according to the Pomeroy Ratings. However, Payne did not see eye to eye with Coach Mike Dunlap, and his departure obviously leaves a big void on a team otherwise lacking in offense.
Moreover, it does not help that the second most used player on the team last year Ayodeji Egbeyemi has graduated and the Lions in fact return just one starter in Marin Mornar, who averaged a modest 9.9 points last season. He is currently surrounded by two freshman and four junior college transfers, none of whom look as good as the Fullerton transfers, so it may take a while for this team to mesh as a unit, and even then the Lions simply do not look very good.
Getting Up for the WCC
Finally, while the Titans of Fullerton hail from the lesser regarded Big West, they seem to get up for opponents from the bit more respected WCC, going 9-4 ATS in their last 13 games vs. that conference. Meanwhile, Loyola Marymount has not had much of a home court advantage going a dismal 6-16 ATS in its last 22 home games.
So with home court not meaning all that much here, we will back the young team with more upside, and we feel that would be CS Fullerton as it visits Loyola Marymount late on Friday.
NCAA Basketball Pick: CS Fullerton +3 (-106)