Including Small Schools in a Big ML Parlay

Saint Mary's Gaels

Rainman M.

Saturday, February 3, 2018 4:14 PM UTC

Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 4:14 PM UTC

It’s nice as a bettor to not always have to worry about covering the spread. St. Mary’s, Portland and Penn State promise to at least win SU today.

Saturday Money Line ParlayFree NCAAB Pick: Portland, Penn State, St. Mary’sBest Line Offered: at Heritage

Portland (9-15) hosts Loyola Marymount (7-15) today at 4 ET. The Pilots are favored by a point.

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Loyola Marymount is in a tough betting situation today. They are 2-9 SU on the road—those two wins came against Incarnate Word and as five-point favorites at Cal State-Northridge. In conference play, they’re already 0-5 SU on the road. They’re 0-4-1 ATS in their last five against Portland and 5-10 SU in their last fifteen at Portland. Moreover, they find themselves in an emotional let-down mode after achieving a huge upset at home vs BYU.

Portland has a decisive advantage on offense thanks to its strength behind the arc. The Pilots rank 52nd in three-point shooting percentage. Guards JoJo Walker and Franklin Porter and forward Josh McSwiggan rank in the top 500 in the category. They’ll get plenty of shooting chances against LMU’s 164th-ranked perimeter defense based on proportion of attempted threes allowed. LMU ranks 240th in three-point percentage allowed because it poorly defends the three.

While Portland can take advantage of its offensive strength, LMU cannot make the same claim. The Lions have the 72nd-highest proportion of points from inside the arc, while they don’t have anybody who completes 40% or higher from three. Portland allows the 238th-highest point distribution from inside the arc. It is relatively vulnerable from three, but LMU ranks 251st in three-point completion percentage and shoots with relatively small frequency from three. LMU will focus on scoring in the area where Portland’s defense is strongest.

History, location and match-up speak for a Portland win. After the Pilots win, the parlay should hit easy street with a couple of larger favorites to add extra betting value.

Penn State (15-9) hosts Iowa (12-12) tonight at 6 ET. The Nittany Lions are favored by 9 points.

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Iowa is in a tough spot. It won its last conference game, but has yet to win back-to-back conference games. Iowa is 2-7 SU on the road this year, the wins coming against UAB and Illinois, both teams which rank outside the top 90 by KenPom—Penn State ranks 52nd. The Hawkeyes are also 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven road games and 3-6 SU in their last nine at Penn State.

Two factors are huge for a team playing on the road and wanting to prevent the opponent from gaining too much momentum: defense and turnovers. Iowa ranks over 100 spots lower than Penn State on KenPom’s defensive efficiency and over 200 lower in percentage of turnovers forced. ‚

The key in the turnover game will be steals. PSU ranks 23rd in forcing steals; Iowa ranks 275th in percentage of steals allowed. PSU’s advantage in the turnover game was already evident in its last game against Michigan State. In that game, the cover was only ever for a moment in danger when PSU somehow missed 13 consecutive shots. By forcing 8 more turnovers, they were able to give the top-ranked Spartans a scare and easily cover.

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Besides their vulnerability to allowing turnovers, the Hawkeyes share another similarity to Michigan State. The Hawkeyes rely on the quality of their half-court offense and their scoring inside the arc. Mike Watkins is Penn State’s most important defensive asset inside, although his teammates were able to step up against Sparty when he entered into foul trouble. Watkins ranks 24th in block percentage and is a big reason why PSU ranks 21st in block percentage and 31st in opposing two-point shooting.

The Hawkeyes rank outside the top 200 in both opposing two-point and three-point shooting percentage. Watkins is also a strong scoring presence inside, where he ranks 22nd in two-point percentage. Point guard Tony Carr, shooting guard Shep Garner and small forward Josh Reaves rank in the top 500 in three-point percentage.

San Diego (15-8) hosts No. 13 Saint Mary’s (22-2) tonight at 9 ET.

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There is betting value with the Gaels on the road, where they won’t be favored by so many points. St. Mary’s has essentially been steamrolling through conference play with no signs of letting up. It is 5-0 SU on the road and 11-0 SU overall against WCC competition. They’ve won the tough ones—at BYU and at Gonzaga and have hardly struggled against the rest. One struggle came at home against San Diego, where they only won by seven because they had just one of those nights from behind the arc, 1-for-11, although they shoot over 40% from three on the season. Their other struggle came against Pacific while they were celebrating their most recent victory at Gonzaga. The Gaels are 9-1 SU in their last ten games against San Diego, winning by an average margin of about 13 points.

San Diego lacks the offensive tools to keep pace with Saint Mary’s. The Toreros, for instance, started strongly in their last game against Gonzaga. But they simply lacked the individual player quality to finish plays around the rim and make important shots in order to stay competitive. They rank 204th in KenPom’s offensive efficiency and rank outside the top 100 in both two-point and three-point completion percentage. They have played five games against KenPom’s top 100 teams and have yet to eclipse 63 points. They lost all five of those games. They’ll need to magically discover some player quality or hope for an even worse shooting performance from Saint Mary’s in order to have a prayer.

The Gaels rank in the top 10 in both two-point and three-point completion percentage. The Toreros excel at guarding the perimeter, ranking 9th in proportion of attempted threes allowed. But no worries, the Gaels boast the 7th-best shooting percentage inside the arc and the 38th-ranked half-court offense. The key duo is point guard Emmett Naar, who ranks 9th in assist rate, and center Jock Landale, who ranks 22nd in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage and 50th in two-point shooting percentage. Unlike San Diego, the Gaels rarely turn the ball over. This duo will will give them too many chances to score and lead them to another conference road win.

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