Free NCAA Basketball Picks: Lay Small Chalk With Loyola Marymount Against San Diego

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, March 4, 2016 4:32 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 4, 2016 4:32 PM UTC

The WCC tournament begins Friday and although this is the 8 vs. 9 game, eighth seeded Loyola Marymount seems to have a big edge over ninth seeded San Diego. See my NCAA basketball picks here. 

Conference tournament season is here and the West Coast Conference begins play Friday night when the ninth seeded San Diego Toreros (9-20, 13-16 ATS) take on the eight seeded Loyola Marymount Lions (13-16, 14-14 ATS) at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, NV at 9:00 ET in a game available on BYU TV. The winner of this contest will then take on the top seeded Saint Mary’s Gaels on Saturday.

The point spread at 5 Dimes has Loyola Marymount as a small favorite for this contest with the current line at -2½ on the NCAA basketball odds boards at odds of -105.


Not a Typical 8th vs. 9th Seed Game
In the minds of most experts, a rematch of Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s in the Championship Game of this WCC Tournament seems like a foregone conclusion, but the games must go on over the next few days and this does not seem like your typical 8-seed vs. 9-seed matchup, especially when looking at how these teams shoot the ball.

Loyola-Marymount finished just three games under .500 at 13-16 overall and 6-12 inside the WCC, and it enters this tournament with some momentum ending the regular season with back-to-back wins over San Francisco and Pepperdine, the same Pepperdine team that swept the season series from top seeded Saint Mary’s!

Conversely, bad shooting was a key reason why San Diego finished the regular year a dismal 9-20 as NCAA basketball picks overall and even a season ending home win over the Portland Pilots could not prevent a last-place finish in the WCC with a 4-14 conference mark. So while these teams finished separated by just two games in the final conference standings, Loyola-Marymount still appears to hold a sizable talent advantage.


Probable Absence of Jacko Keeping Spread Down
The Lions are averaging a respectable 72.3 points per game and this is a team that generally will not beat itself, as LMU is ranked 45th in the country in offensive turnover percentage at only 16.1 percent vs. a national average of 18.2 percent. Given that San Diego applies no pressure ranking 237th in defensive turnover percentage at 17.3 percent, it means that the Lions should be able to run their offense here practically unabated!

However, this low point spread is an indication that Marymount will again be without their best player Adom Jacko, who has missed the last four games with a back injury. Still, we feel this line of -2½ is an over-adjustment for his absence, especially after the Lions beat better opponents while scoring 100 and 90 points respectively over the last two games!

Yes, but those contests went to overtime, but the Lions still scored more points during regulation time of those games than San Diego figures to score here. Brandon Brown and Steven Haney have carried the load well with Jacko out and Joshua Spiers could be a nice X-factor here if he gets extended minutes.


Actually Finished in 10th Place
Meanwhile, San Diego is one of the very worst shooting teams in the country as the Toreros rank 347th out of 351 NCAA Basketball Division I teams in scoring at 60.7 points per game, 327th in effective field goal percentage while ranking 339th in three-point shooting (29.1 percent) and 275th in two-point shooting (46.0 percent), and 331st in offensive efficiency.

To make matters worse, San Diego does not get many second chances ranking 285th in offensive rebounding percentage at 26.2 percent vs. a national average of 29.8 percent, and it is very sloppy with the basketball ranking 309th in offensive turnover percentage at 20.5 percent.

When you combine all that with the inability of the Toreros to force turnovers defensively, it comes as no surprise that they actually finished in tenth place in the 10-team WCC. San Diego got bumped up to a 9-seed for this tournament because team that actually finished ninth, the Pacific Tigers, is serving a self-imposed post-season ban.


Toreros Cannot Stand Prosperity
Finally, while San Diego season ended the regular season on a high note by beating Portland, that may not be a good thing given that the Toreros are 7-19 ATS in their last 26 games following an ATS win. Conversely, Loyola-Marymount won its final two games and the Lions have tended to maintain their form better, going 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up win.

Look for those trends to continue here as, on paper at least, Loyola-Marymount appears to have a bigger edge over San Diego than this small point spread would indicate even without Jacko, so give the modest points with the Lions in the first game of the West Coast Conference Tournament on Friday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Loyola-Marymount -3.5
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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