Manhattan Jaspers are the NCAA Basketball Pick Sunday

LT Profits Sports Group

Sunday, February 8, 2015 3:24 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 Sunday.

 

The defending MAAC Champions have thrust themselves right back into the conference race this year and can take over sole possession of second place Sunday as those Manhattan Jaspers (12-10, 3-7 away) pay a visit to the Rider Broncs (15-9, 7-2 home) at Alumni Gymnasium in Lawrenceville, NJ at 2:00 ET with live streaming and free audio available at gobroncs.com.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Manhattan as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +2½ with odds of -110.


Four-Game Winning Streak
Manhattan won the MAAC and then went on to give Louisville a battle in the NCAA Tournament last season before losing 71-64 in the second round. Things did not look so bright to being this season for the Jaspers but they have suddenly caught fire by winning for straight games, setting up this nice matchup between the two teams currently tied for second place in the conference at 9-4 behind only MAAC kingpin Iona (10-2).

Rider is technically in second place right now due to going into Manhattan and being the upset NCAA Basketball pick winner 82-79 in overtime on January 18th a win that the Jaspers hope to avenge here on the Broncs’ home court in Lawrenceville. Rider has done a good job of protecting its home court thus far at 7-2 straight up, but Manhattan represents a tough matchup here nonetheless.


Free Throws Major Key for Manhattan
It has been a season for streaks for Manhattan inside the MAAC as the Jaspers won four straight games to get to 5-2 in conference, then lost to straight to drop to the middle of the pack at 5-4 and then went on their current four-game win streak. Granted the Jaspers are a bit down offensively from where they were last season, but the offense has been coming around as of late.

Manhattan is still only 156th in the country in points scored with 68.4 per game overall but that average has gone up to 76.4 points over the last five games and the Jaspers have raised their effective field goal percentage to 50.4 percent overall. And do not underestimate the importance of free throws for Manhattan either.

No, that is not because the Jaspers shoot a high percentage from the foul line as they are only at 67.3 percent, but rather because they spend so much time there ranking sixth in the entire country in FTA/FGA ratio at 48.7 percent vs. a national average of 37.4 percent. Thus 24.5 percent of Manhattan’s point distribution comes from free throws, which is the 26th highest such percentage in the country.


Turnovers Could Doom Rider
Moreover, don’t underestimate the Manhattan defense either, especially its ability to force turnovers as the Jaspers are seventh in the country in defensive turnover percentage at 25.0 percent vs. a national average of 19.5 percent. That could make this a nightmarish matchup for a turnover prone Rider offense that is 208th in offensive turnover percentage.

Turnovers have already cost Rider some games this season such as turning the ball over a total of 35 times in its two home losses, and the Broncs were fortunate that Manhattan was the sloppier team in the upset win a few weeks ago as Manhattan was the team that committed 19 turnovers, although Rider was not exactly clean with 13 giveaways.

The Broncs may not be as fortunate in the turnover differential again here and the Broncs have not shot the ball very well this season with an effective field goal percentage of 48.4 percent, a percentage that has actually dropped to 47.9 percent during MAAC play despite the 9-4 conference mark. Comparatively the Manhattan effective field goal percentage stands at a nice 51.7 percent inside the conference.


Visitors Have Dominated ATS in Series
Aside from Manhattan seeking revenge for the earlier home loss, that contest also continued the uncanny dominance of the road teams in this head-to-head series as the visiting teams are now 10-1 ATS in the last 11 meetings!

There seems to be enough favoring Manhattan here for the trend to continue for at least one more game, so look for the Jaspers to get their revenge visiting Rider on Sunday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Manhattan +2½ (-110)