Georgia State +5½ Our NCAA Basketball Pick vs. Arkansas-Little Rock

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, February 18, 2016 4:58 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016 4:58 PM UTC

NCAA Basketball picks: The Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans are 22-3 overall and the only Sun Belt team ranked in the Pomeroy Top 50. 

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Georgia State +5½ 
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

There is potential for an upset inside the Sun Belt Conference Thursday night when the conference leaders, the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans (22-3, 14-7 ATS) pay a visit to the Georgia State Panthers (13-10, 6-15 ATS), who are 10-2 at home at GSU Sports Arena in Atlanta, GA at 7:30 ET in a game available on ESPN3.

The point spread at BetOnline has Georgia State as a decent home underdog for this contest with the current line at +5½ on the NCAA Basketball odds board at odds of -110.


Trojans 44th on Pomeroy
Besides being 22-3 overall, Arkansas-Little Rock tops the Sun Belt with 12-2 mark and the Trojans are the highest ranked Sun Belt Conference team on the Pomeroy Ratings overall at a very good 44th overall in the country, easily the highest ranked Pomeroy ream from the Sun Belt with 75th ranked Texas-Arlington next best and 92nd ranked UL Lafayette the only other Sun Belt team in the Top 100.

Georgia State meanwhile still owns a winning overall record at 13-10, but the Panthers are trending in the wrong direction as the losing NCAA Basketball picks in seven of their last nine games to fall two games below .500 in the conference standings at 6-8. This slump could be serving to make the Panthers a bit undervalued as a home underdog here though, as they are still 10-2 at GSU Sports Arena after all.


Treacherous Spot for Little Rock?
Arkansas-Little Rock served notice that it was probably the team to beat in the Sun Belt this season with two impressive early road wins visiting non-conference opponents still ranked in the Pomeroy 100, upsetting San Diego State and Tulsa. And that promise has come to fruition with the 12-2 conference record, but his could be a treacherous spot for UALR as the Trojans come off of a big 68-64 road win at UL Lafayette in their last game as 3½-point underdogs

Keep in mind that that win marked the fifth win for the Trojans over a Pomeroy 100 team this year, as besides aforementioned San Diego State and Tulsa out of conference, they have beaten Texas-Arlington and now swept UL Lafayette in conference. What is significant in regard to this game tonight though is that Little Rock has tended to let down a bit after big wins, going 0-4 ATS in the subsequent games following the first four Pomeroy 100 wins!

So in the immortal words of the late great Yogi Berra, it could be “déjà vu all over again” for the Trojans here tonight with them not bringing their “A” game, especially with the win at Lafayette giving them a two-game lead over the Ragin’ Cajuns atop the conference.


NCAA Darlings Last Year
Georgia State was one of the great stories of the NCAA Tournament last season, upsetting Baylor as a 14-seed in the second round and then hanging tough in an eight-point loss to Xavier in the round of 32 led by R.J. Hunter, the son of head coach Ron Hunter, who ruptured his Achilles tendon during the celebration following the Baylor upset.

The elder Hunter is back and healthy on the sideline this season, but unfortunately his son R.J. graduated and the Panthers have gone from going 25-10 and being Sun Belt Champions after going 15-5 in conference last season to their current state. Still, that does not mean that this team is not capable of pull an upset here if Little Rock continues its tendency to let down after big wins.

The Panthers still play good defense, allowing only a 47.6 percent effective field goal percentage this year and ranking 23rd in the country in defensive turnover percentage at 21.7 percent vs. a national average of 18.3 percent. Georgia State also leads the conference in that latter category during Sun Belt play, turning opponents over 21.6 percent of the time.

Granted Georgia State is not a good shooting team this year with Hunter departed, but the Panthers make up for that somewhat by getting to the foul line a lot with a 41.7 percent FTA/FGA ratio vs. a national average of 36.8 percent, and a constant parade to the free throw line is never a bad thing for an underdog.


Not Great Following ATS Win
Finally, we have already chronicled the struggles of Little Rock following big wins this year, but lately the Trojans have had trouble piecing together ATS covers regardless of the competition, going 2-6 ATS in their last eight games following an ATS win.

We get that Georgia State is slumping right now, but with Arkansas-Little Rock in a potential letdown spot and with the slump potentially giving the Panthers good line value at home, we recommend taking the points with the home dog in a possible upset in Atlanta on Thursday.

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