Free NCAAB Picks: Lock Nevada To Win Over Morehead In Game 1 Of CBI Championship

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, March 28, 2016 2:21 PM GMT

The CBI Tournament has reached its two-out-of-three championship series & Nevada seems to offer good underdog value as NCAA basketball pick visiting Morehead St. for Game 1.

 

The underdogs could have good ATS value as a pair of 22-win teams have reached the best two-out-of-three CBI Tournament Championship Series, which kicks off Monday when the Nevada Wolf Pack (22-13, 18-15 ATS) from the Mountain West Conference pay a visit to the Morehead State Eagles (22-12, 19-12-1 ATS) out of the Ohio Valley Conference for Game 1 from Johnson Arena in Morehead, KY at 8:30 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPNU. The point spread at 5Dimes has Nevada as a moderate road underdog for this contest with the current line at +4½ on the NCAA tournament odds board at odds of -102.

 

Can Nevada Handle the Road?
Morehead State opened up as a three-point home favorite for this game but early money has pushed the Eagles up to their current -4½. While we concede that part of that move may have been caused by smart money, another factor could be Nevada needing to travel to Kentucky after being home for the first three rounds of this tournament, and this is in fact the first true road game for the Wolf Pack since visiting Boise State back on March 2nd.

Meanwhile, the Eagles have gotten here by being the winning NCAA tournament picks on the road in two of the first three rounds, with wins at Siena and Ohio sandwiched around a win here at home over Duquesne. So while Morehead State is home here, the Eagles have done quite a bit of travelling themselves as of late.

 

Best Offensive Stretch of Season
While we get that Nevada is only 5-9 in true road games this season, we feel that gets offset by a bit of urgency with the Wolf Pack not wanting to lose Game 1 of a two-of-three series, and when both of these team play to their best potential, we feel that Nevada is the better team, especially based on its non-conference offensive performances this year.

Yes, we are well aware that Nevada ranked dead last during Mountain West Conference play in effective field goal percentage, but for whatever reason the Wolf Pack have performed much better vs. non-conference foes, resulting in a commendable average of 75.2 points per game overall. And not only was that apparent during the early non-conference portion of the Nevada schedule, but that pattern has continued through the first three games of this tournament.

In fact, the Wolf Pack have had their best offensive stretch of the season during the three games of this CBI, shooting an impressive 49.7 percent from the field overall including a whopping 43.1 percent from beyond the three-point arc while also committing just 8.7 turnovers per game! If the Pack can bring that game on the road with them here, they could very well be on their way to a sweep of this series with Game 2 scheduled for Reno on Wednesday.

 

Very Aggressive Eagles Defense
Now, Morehead State is certainly a hot team having won 10 of its last 11 games, although the loss came at the worst possible time in the Ohio Valley Tournament to Tennessee-Martin, a tournament in which eighth seeded Austin Peay pulled the upset to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Also, the Eagles played the softer schedule between these two teams with the Ohio Valley Conference ranked just 22nd as a whole on the Pomeroy Ratings and the Mountain West ranked 10th. Perhaps that class edge over other CBI teams has also contributed to the Nevada offense looking completely different during this tournament.

Now, one thing that the Morehead State defense does is apply pressure, as the Eagles are ranked 16th in the country in defensive turnover percentage at 21.6 percent vs. a national average of 18.1 percent. However, the Eagles can be vulnerable when teams crack their pressure as they are only 201st in effective field goal percentage allowed, and as mentioned Nevada has done a good job of ball protection the last three games. Also, the aggressiveness of the Morehead defense has led to a lot of fouls with the Eagles ranked 347th out of 351 Division I teams in FTA/FGA ratio allowed at 51.9 percent vs. a national average of 36.6 percent, and that could only help a Wolf Pack team that is a good 50th nationally in free throw shooting at 73.4 percent.

 

Usually Rise to the Occasion
Finally, Nevada enters this championship series on a 4-1 ATS run overall and the Wolf Pack have tended to play their best vs. winning teams, going 5-2 ATS in their last seven games vs. teams with a winning percentage above .600 and 4-1 ATS in their last five games vs. teams with winning records overall. We look for those patterns to continue here in a close matchup that may not be decided until the final buzzer, making these points worth taking when Nevada visits Morehead State for Game 1 of the CBI Championship Series on ESPNU on Monday.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Nevada +4.5 (-102) (Game 1)
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes