Middle Tennessee the NCAA Basketball Pick in Stillwater

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 3:54 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 Tuesday.

 

The national power from the major conference could be in for a tougher battle than the double-digit line suggests Tuesday night when the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (5-4, 2-1 away) pay a visit to those Oklahoma State Cowboys (8-1, 5-0 home) at Gallagher Iba Arena in Stillwater, OK at 9:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPNU.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Middle Tennessee State as a large underdog for this contest with the current line at +14 with odds of -109.


Not Quite Ranked Yet
Oklahoma State hails out of the Big 12 and while it is not ranked in the Top 25 currently, it did receive several votes in the latest AP Poll after its 8-1 start and the Cowboys are ranked 18th in the country overall on the Pomeroy Ratings. The Cowboys won 21 games last season including beating the Kansas Jayhawks here at home, earning them an NCAA Tournament bid where they lost to Gonzaga in the second round.

Middle Tennessee may not have the pedigree of Oklahoma State while coming out of Conference USA, but the Blue Raiders finished with the better record last season at 24-9. Unfortunately the season ended in disappointment when MTSU was the losing NCAA Basketball pick to Danny Manning’s Tulsa team in the semifinals of the Conference USA Tournament.


Coming Off of Nice Upset
The Blue Raiders are looking for atonement after coming so close to reaching the Big Dance last season, and while they did not get off to the best of starts this year at 3-4, they have rebounded to win two straight games including a nice 62-61 upset win at Akron as eight-point underdogs on Saturday. Middle Tennessee shot a scorching 55.0 percent in that game but just as importantly held the Zips to 40.4 percent shooting.

Yes both of those percentages were anomalous, but it is not as if the Blue Raiders are incapable of more games closer to that as they are shooting an above average 35.9 percent on three-point attempts compared to a national average of 33.6 percent and their defense is allowing a 49.2 percent effective field goal percentage. The weakness in the MTSU defense is defending the three, as the Raiders are 281st in three-point defense allowing a 36.9 percent success rate.

However Oklahoma State may not be equipped to take advantage of that weakness while shooting only 32.8 percent from beyond the arc thus far. The Cowboys do most of their damage closer to the basket making 52.0 percent of their two-point attempts, but the Blue Raiders are allowing a reasonable 46.1 percent on two-point shooting vs. a fairly good schedule ranked 163rd in SOS, with the for MTSU losses coming to Cincinnati, Creighton, Belmont and Murray State.


Record is Nice, Schedule is Not
Granted this assignment is not any easier but remember that Middle Tennessee only needs to stay within 14 points, and perhaps the biggest reason that Oklahoma State is not in the AP Top 25 despite being 8-1 and coming from a major conference is because the Cowboys have faced an SOS ranked 250th on Pomeroy, weaker than even Middle Tennessee’s schedule.

Furthermore the only Oklahoma State loss came to the highest ranked Pomeroy team it faced in 40th ranked South Carolina, and it was a bad loss at that by a 75-49 score. That loss came two games ago and to their credit the Cowboys did rebound with their best win of the season by beating the Memphis Tigers 73-55 on the road on Saturday. Still, the Cowboys were out-rebounded 19-5 on the offensive glass in that game allowing Memphis to get off 15 more shots.

Luckily for Oklahoma State, Memphis could not put the ball in the ocean that day going 20-for-57, 35.1 percent from the field compared to 20-for-42, 47.6 percent from OSU. That is still a dangerous way to live though as the Cowboys would have been in trouble vs. a more competent shooting team.


No Second Chances for Cowboys
But the worst part is that discrepancy in second chance opportunities was not an aberration as Oklahoma State is a dismal 269th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage at 27.8 percent against a national average of 31.5 percent. That certainly does not figure to change tonight with Middle Tennessee ranking an excellent 17th in defensive rebounding percentage!

Thus Oklahoma State may need to shoot an amazing percentage to cover this large spread given the expected scarcity of second chances, so we recommend taking these big points with Middle Tennessee State when it visits Stillwater on Tuesday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Middle Tennessee State +14 (-109)