DePaul to Cover the NCAA Basketball Odds as Home Dogs

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, December 31, 2014 3:30 PM UTC

Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014 3:30 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 Wednesday.


There could be an upset on the first full day of Big East Conference action on New Year’s Eve Wednesday, or at the very least an underdog cover when the Marquette Golden Eagles (8-4, 0-1 away) pay a visit to those DePaul Blue Demons (6-7, 5-2 home) at Allstate Arena in Chicago, IL at 5:00 ET in a game televised nationally on FOX Sports 1.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has DePaul as a home underdog for this contest with the current line at +5 with odds of -101.

Line Skewed by Non-Conference Finishes?
These teams certainly ended the non-conference portions of their schedules heading in different directions. Marquette enters this contest riding a four-game winning streak since losing to one of the best teams in the country in Wisconsin, ending their non-conference slate with an 81-53 win over Morgan State back home in Milwaukee on Sunday. The Golden Eagles are 8-4, but three of the losses were to teams in the Pomeroy Top 25.

Besides the stumble vs. Wisconsin, Marquette also lost to Ohio State and Michigan State, although it also has a dubious home loss to a Nebraska Omaha team ranked 222nd on the Pomeroy Ratings and the loss at Michigan State is starting to look worse as the Spartans continue to struggle.

DePaul on the other hand was off to a 6-1 start, but the Blue Demons lost all of that momentum by being the losing NCAA Basketball picks in each of their last six games, most recently falling to Loyola Marymount in the seventh-place game of the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii on Christmas Day.

Some Hope for Blue Demons
Still, it bears mentioning that only one loss during the DePaul losing streak came at home, and that was vs. an underrated Illinois State team ranked 85th on Pomeroy, 18 spots higher than the 103rd ranked Marquette team it hosts today. Looking at the Demons’ entire body of work, there is reason to belief that they are improved this season over the club that went a dismal 3-15 inside he Big East last season before losing to Creighton in the Big East Tournament.

For starters, it is DePaul that owns the best win for either of these teams when it knocked off 40th ranked Stanford here in Chicago on November 30th, and it was a convincing win too by an 87-72 score. Also, the Blue Demons are vastly improved offensively this season relative to recent years, ranking 95th in offensive efficiency (compared to 176th last year) and an impressive 53rd in effective field goal percentage (257th last year) at a nice 52.7 percent!

The Demons have a chance to continue that improvement with Marquette ranking only 199th in effective field goal percentage allowed at 49.6 percent. The Golden Eagles have particularly struggled with interior defense ranking 239th in two-point defense at 49.9 percent, and DePaul has been strong inside hitting 51.9 percent of its two-point shots to rank 52nd nationally.

Just Second True Road Game for Eagles
Meanwhile all four games during the current Marquette winning streak have come at home, and since beginning the streak vs. a decent Arizona State team ranked 63rd on Pomeroy 78-71, they have routed three teams ranked 300th or worse, which is not saying much. In fact, despite the three Pomeroy 25 losses the Golden Eagles have still faced a schedule ranked 235th in SOS with Arizona State being the only team they have beaten ranked in the Pomeroy Top 90.

Also this is only the Eagles’ second true road game and first since losing at Ohio State in just the second game of the season.

Marquette was an NCAA Tournament team two years ago, but it slipped to 17-15 overall and 9-9 in the Big East while failing to make the post-season last season and the easy schedule and current 8-4 record this year have masked the fact that the Golden Eagles are not playing as well defensively in their first season under new coach Steve Wojciechowski as they did under Buzz Williams.

And as mentioned earlier, DePaul is fully capable of taking advantage of what has been a disappointing Marquette interior defense.

Home Standing DePaul Should Have Free Throw Edge
Finally, underdog DePaul figures to have the advantage at the free throw line in this game, not only because of some natural home cooking but also because it is 24th in the country in free throw shooting at 74.8 percent while Marquette is 187th at just 68.0 percent.

So the opposing streaks that these teams are on could very well be serving to give value to the Blue Demons as home underdogs, so take the points with DePaul when it hosts Marquette on New Year’s Eve Wednesday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: DePaul +5 (-101)

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