Indiana Hoosiers the NCAA Basketball Pick vs. Northwestern

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, March 12, 2015 3:15 PM GMT

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Thursday.

 



The team desperate for a win to help its NCAA Tournament status should get the job done Thursday night in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament when the 10th seeded Northwestern Wildcats (15-16, 4-9 away/neutral) take on those seventh seeded Indiana Hoosiers (19-12, 4-8 away/neutral) at the United Center in Chicago, IL at 6:30 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN2.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Indiana as a moderate favorite for this contest with the current line at -4 with odds of -113.


Indiana Squarely on the Bubble
When the Indiana Hoosiers beat Maryland on January 22nd, there was probably not even a thought about Indiana possibly not making the NCAA Tournament as it then sat at 15-4 overall and 5-1 inside a Big Ten Conference that is one of the best in the country. However, the Hoosiers then went 4-8 in their final 12 games of the regular season to finish only 19-12 and 9-9 in the conference and the general consensus is that a loss here knocks them out of the Big Dance.

That becomes doubly so considering their opponents from Northwestern finished under .500 overall at 15-16 and just 6-12 inside the Big Ten. The Wildcats did have a nice finish though winning five of their last seven games, a stretch that included being the winning NCAA Basketball picks in four straight games for the longest Northwestern conference winning streak since 1967!


Hoosiers Losing Streak Began vs. Northwestern
Indiana put itself in this precarious spot by losing four of its last five games including the last three in a row, a three-game losing streak that began vs. this Northwestern team on the road in Evanston on February 25th. Coincidentally, that was also the final game of the aforementioned Wildcats’ four-game Big Ten winnings streak. Even more disconcerting was that Indiana lost its last three home games, which should not sit well with the selection committee.

Still, a win or two in this Big Ten Tournament should help offset that, as the last two home losses to end the year were vs. Iowa and Michigan State, both of home are safely in the Big Dance, and the Hoosiers faced a good schedule ranked 67th in SOS according to the Pomeroy Ratings. Also, eight of the nine conference losses for the Hoosiers were to teams that finished ahead of them in the Big Ten, and they now get to a chance to avenge the lone exception.

Indiana hadan uncharacteristically off night shooting the basketball in that loss to the 10th place Wildcats going just 23-for-63, 36.5 percent from the field. Remember that the Hoosiers are 10th in the country in offensive efficiency and 16th in effective field goal percentage at 55.2 percent primarily due to ranking third in three-point shooting at 41.0 percent, and a more “normal” shooting performance by Indiana now playing on a neutral court should make a big difference.


Rebounding Battle a Major Key
Another anomaly about that regular season meeting was that Northwestern won the rebounding battle 39-34, and the Wildcats are normally a poor rebounding team that does not figure to duplicate that again here.

In fact Indiana is the team that figures to have more second chance opportunities if there is a return to normalcy here. Indiana is a good 70th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage at 34.5 percent, safely above the national average of 31.1 percent, while Northwestern struggles when its initial shots are not going in the basket ranking 280th in offensive rebounding percentage at a mere 27.9 percent.

So when you compound two anomalous performances by the Indiana shooters and the Northwestern rebounders in the first meeting, it would already seem to be enough to expect Indiana to get its revenge by a fairly safe margin here. But when you add in the Hoosiers being in desperation mode with their NCAA Tournament lives at stake, that likelihood seems to increase even more.


Wildcats ATS Dominance in Series
Now we get that Northwestern has historically played Indiana tough, as the regular season upset made the Wildcats an incredible 18-4 ATS in the last 22 head-to-head meetings. However, that loses significance considering Indiana was a bigger favorite that it is today in most of those games, and we also think the NCAA ramifications here trump any trend that goes back as far as that one does.

Thus, look for Indiana to take one step closer to an NCAA Tournament berth with a rather handy win over Northwestern in the second round to the Big Ten Tournament from Chicago on Thursday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Indiana -4 (-113)