Home Dog Charleston Is Our NCAA Basketball Pick Over James Madison

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, February 11, 2016 4:10 PM GMT

Something has to give in CAA action Thursday night when James Madison (8-1 on the road) visits Charleston (10-3 at home), and we dig for the value for our NCAA basketball picks.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Charleston +1
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

In an interesting CAA matchup Thursday night between what has been a great road team and a very good home team so far, the small home underdog may have value with the James Madison Dukes (18-7, 12-9-1 ATS) pay a visit to those Charleston Cougars (15-8, 8-10 ATS) at TD Arena in Charleston, SC at 7:30 ET with live streaming available at CAA.TV

The point spread at 5Dimes has Charleston as a tiny home underdog for this contest with the current line at +1 on the NCAA basketball odds board at odds of -105.

 

James Madison Road Warriors
Charleston opened up just 2-4 inside the CAA this season, but then a road win at Towson on January 21st began a streak that has seen the Cougars win five of their last six games to improve to 7-5 in the conference and to 15-8 overall. Furthermore, this is a team that beat LSU and Player of the Year candidate Ben Simmons by 12 points here in Charleston during non-conference play!

James Madison meanwhile has a rather odd home vs. away slit, as the Dukes are 10-5 straight up at home but they have become Road Warriors, being the winning NCAA Basketball picks in eight of their nine true road games! That leaves them in a three-way tie along with Hofstra and Towson for third place in the CAA with an 8-4 conference mark one game ahead of Charleston, as well as at 18-7 overall.

 

Charleston on a Roll
Still, Charleston may be the “now” team in the conference with its current 5-1 straight up run, a run that has been fueled by suffocating defense. The Cougars are 11th in the entire country in points against allowing just 61.9 per game, an average that drops to a miniscule 58.0 points during conference play. And a peek at the Charleston Pomeroy profile shows that those defensive numbers are no flukes.

Starting with the national rankings, the Cougars are 16th in the land in defensive efficiency, thanks to allowing an effective field goal percentage of only 47.5 percent and ranking 25th in defensive turnover percentage at 21.6 percent vs. a national average of 18.4 percent. Turning to the conference rankings, Charleston leads the conference in defensive efficiency during CAA play with that turnover percentage rising to 22.5 percent, which is also tops in the conference.

And perhaps the worst news for Charleston opponents is that instead of leveling off, the Cougars actually seem to be peaking defensively allow a microscopic 51.0 points per game on 37.4 percent shooting during the current 5-1 run, including holding Drexel to eight field goals for the entire game on Saturday in a 60-38 romp that improved the Cougars to 10-3 at home.

 

Good Defense Stops Good Offense?
James Madison finished in a four-way tie atop the conference at 12-6 last season, but it was one of those tied teams in Northeastern that won the CAA and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Now, the Dukes hope to be the team getting the automatic bid to the Big Dance by winning the CAA Tournament this year, and their ability to win so often away from home certainly helps those chances, as does averaging a healthy 76.4 points per game overall.

But while James Madison is clearly superior offensively in this game ranking 90th in the country in offensive efficiency compared to a 267th ranking in that category by Charleston, always remember the old adage that “Good defense stops good offense!” The Dukes shot 42.9 percent in their first meeting with the Cougars, which is well off their season average of 45.5 percent, and given the recent play of the Charleston defense do not expect improvement here.

Remember too that the lone road loss for James Madison this year came in probably its worst shooting game of the year when it shot 39.1 percent in a loss at William & Mary on January 31st, and it is not too difficult to envision another low shooting percentage close to that here given Charleston’s current form.

 

Cougars Pulled Road Upset First Meeting
Finally, remember that these two teams opened up their respective CAA season against each other with Charleston going on the road to James Madison and upsetting the Dukes 65-62 as six-point underdogs. Those 62 points were a season low for the Dukes during CAA play, but unfortunately for them the Cougars’ defense has remained stifling, so an improved offense showing for Madison is not a given here on the road.

So while we respect the great road record of James Madison this season, we simply cannot resist backing a great defense as a home underdog so we recommend taking the points with Charleston at TD Arena on Thursday.