Middle Tennessee State is the NCAA Basketball Pick at Rice

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, February 12, 2015 3:59 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 3:59 PM UTC

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 road favorite seems a tad underpriced Thursday night in Conference USA play when those Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (13-11, 3-6 away) pay a visit to the Rice Owls (7-15, 5-5 home) at Tudor Fieldhouse in Houston, TX at 8:00 ET with live streaming available at riceowls.com.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Middle Tennessee State as a modest road favorite for this contest with the current line at -3 with odds of -102.

Good Schedule for Middle Tennessee
Middle Tennessee State has a winning 13-11 record overall and the Blue Raiders have done that vs. a competitive schedule. Six of the 11 losses have come to teams in the Pomeroy Top 100 and the Raiders also have two wins over such teams, beating 98th ranked Akron and 71st ranked Old Dominion. MTSU has a 6-5 record in Conference USA play, three games behind the trio of Louisiana Tech, UAB and Western Kentucky, all sitting at 9-2.

Speaking of Western Kentucky, Rice was a shocking winning NCAA Basketball pick over the Hilltoppers on the road 72-68 Saturday in Bowling Green as a 12½-point underdog while uncharacteristically shooting 59.5 percent from the field and limiting the Toppers to 41.8 percent shooting. That upset still leaves the Owls at just 7-15 overall though including 4-6 in conference play.

Still Looking for First Winning Record in Conference USA
Remember that Rice became a member of Conference USA for the 2005-06 season and yet the Owls have still never finished over .500 inside the conference and the prospects do not seem good for this year either. Yet that shocker at Western Kentucky seemingly has Rice overvalued returning home here, and it is not as if the Owls have a huge home court advantage anyway.

The performances on both ends of the court Saturday far out-performed what Rice had done all year, so we feel some correction is in order tonight.

You see, the Owls are only 256th in the country in offensive efficiency, as while they are shooting the ball well enough with a 51.1 effective field goal percentage, they are too loose with the basketball ranking 338th out of 351 Division I teams in offensive turnover percentage and they do not get many second opportunities, ranking 291st in offensive rebounding percentage.

Furthermore the outlook is not any better on the defensive end where Rice is 251st in efficiency and 277th in effective field goal percentage allowed at 51.4 percent.

Comes off Loss to First Place Team
Now Middle Tennessee State has lost three of its last four games and comes off of an 11-point home loss 73-62 to Louisiana Tech. Two of those three losses came to two of the teams currently tied for first place in the conference though, while the other one came on the road to a Texas-San Antonio team ranked almost 100 spots higher on the Pomeroy Ratings (179th) than Rice (269th). Middle Tennessee is ranked 178th overall.

Now granted the Blue Raiders can be offensively challenged at time themselves, although their good schedule may have something to do with that, but they look to have a much better defense here, a defense capable of creating points in transition as MTSU is 73rd in the nation in defensive turnover percentage at 21.1 percent vs. a national average of 19.4 percent, and the shaky Rice ball-handlers have turned the ball over 23.6 percent of the time.

Middle Tennessee also figures to give up practically nothing on Rice’s offensive glass either, as while the Owls are a weak offensive rebounding team as mentioned, the Blue Raiders are an amazing 10th in the country in defensive rebounding percentage!

Rice Has Been Poor Bet at Home
Finally, as we alluded to earlier Rice has not performed particularly well at home, especially from a betting perspective as it is a measly 7-15 ATS in its last 22 home games, and in many of those games the Owls were getting more than the three points they are getting here.

We will back the better team here vs. a team with a weak home court, so give the small spot on the road with Middle Tennessee State at Rice on Thursday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Middle Tennessee State -3 (-102)

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