Montana Grizzlies are the NCAA Basketball Picks to Roar

LT Profits Sports Group

Sunday, December 14, 2014 3:02 PM UTC

Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014 3:02 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 Sunday.


In a game with two lax defenses Sunday evening, the better offense should prevail when the Montana Grizzlies (3-5, 1-4 away) pay a visit to the Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers (4-6, 3-2 home) at the Klotsche Center in Milwaukee, WI at 6:00 ET in a game available on ESPN3.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Montana as a modest road underdog for this contest with the current line at +3 with odds of -114.

Good Schedules for Both Teams
Although these teams have losing records, both have played competitive schedules that may serve them better when play in their respective conferences begins. Montana hopes to get back in the NCAA Tournament as Big Sky Conference Champion, and while the Grizzlies are off to a 3-5 start, four of their losses have come to teams ranked in the Pomeroy Top 100 and they have faced a schedule ranked an excellent 18th in SOS according to Pomeroy.

Milwaukee is more of a longshot to have much success this season in the Horizon League. Yes the Panthers have faced an SOS ranked a respectable 90th overall, but not all of their NCAA Basketball pick losses this season could simply be chalked up to the competition as they grade out poorly on both sides of the basketball, ranking 201st in offensive efficiency and 260th in defensive efficiency.

Montana Good Ball Protection
Granted the Grizzlies are only 264th in defensive efficiency themselves, but at least Montana is the more capable team offensively here and thus the team more likely to be able to take advantage of the opponent’s suspect defense. The Grizzlies are 145th in offensive efficiency, although their adjusted grading of 100.8 points per 100 possessions is still above the national average of 99.7, and they are 88th in effective field goal percentage at 51.4 percent.

Perhaps the biggest story here though is that Montana does not figure to turn the ball over much and therefore should be able to run its offense with little to no pressure from Milwaukee. That is because the Grizzlies have been excellent with ball protection ranking 32nd on the country in offensive turnover percentage at 16.7 percent compared to a national average of 20.1 percent, while on the other side Milwaukee is a dismal 319th in defensive turnover percentage at 16.8.

Thus Martin Breunig, who is averaging 17.5 points on a sensational 63.6 percent shooting, should be able to dominate with great looks near the basket, with Jordan Gregory (15.6 points) lending support from the perimeter.

Panthers Weak Offensively Again
Shooting has been an issue for Milwaukee for quite a few years as this is a team that has not been over 50 percent in effective field goal percentage since 2010-11 when the team won 19 games, and in the immortal words of Yogi Berra, it is now “déjà vu all over again!” That is because the Panthers are at 49.3 percent in effective shooting percentage, even shooting only 49.6 percent on two-point attempts while ranking 204th in three-point shooting at 32.5 percent.

But that is not the only issue offensively as the Panthers are also 246th in offensive turnover percentage and they are a horrible 281st in free throw shooting at just 64.2 percent. Thus this is a team that does not do enough to make up for a lousy defense, and the four Milwaukee wins this year have come vs. two sub-division teams, one of them being just 64-59 over Concordia, as well as vs. 262nd ranked (on Pomeroy) UMKC and 144th ranked UL Lafayette.

Not a Great Home Team
Finally, it is not as if the Panthers have an enormous home court advantage as they are 3-2 at home while beating nobody as mentioned, and while one of the home losses was understandable to Wisconsin on Wednesday, the other one was to 316th ranked IUPUI.

So given that weak home court advantage, the seemingly better talent of Montana should win out in the end when the Grizzlies make the trip into Milwaukee on Sunday.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Montana +3 (-114)

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