NCAA Basketball Pick: Air Force Falcons -6 over UC Riverside

LT Profits Sports Group

Saturday, December 14, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Air Force can use its huge shooting edge and the mile-high elevation to its advantage when it closes out its non-conference home schedule vs. UC Riverside Saturday.

The home team has a vast shooting advantage while playing at high elevation on Saturday when the US Riverside Highlanders (3-4, 1-2 away) pay a visit to those Air Force Falcons (5-4, 4-3 home) at Clune Arena in Colorado Springs, CO at 4:00 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Air Force as a home favorite for this contest with the current line at -6 with odds of -123.

This is the last home game for Air Force before commencing play in the tough Mountain West Conference, so this is probably the Falcons’ last chance to beat up on a relative lightweight in the altitude of Colorado Springs for quite a while. And the Falcons have been a tough team at Clune Arena while hanging with and even upsetting some ranked Mountain West Conference teams.

UC Riverside may play the part of the sacrificial lamb here as the Highlanders are ranked just 273rd in the early Pomeroy Ratings, they lack the scoring punch to keep pace with Air Force should the Falcons get running, and just like with every team that visits here, stamina could be an issue in the second half while playing a mile high.

Scoring is not much of an issue for an Air Force team that is ranked an excellent 28th in the country in effective field goal percentage, thanks to shooting a blistering 40.1 percent from beyond the three-point arc while also hitting on 51.8 percent of its two-point attempts. Granted the three games the Falcons have lost at home is more than they usually lose at home out of conference, but the last two came to two highly regarded teams in Colorado and Richmond.

Something else that the Falcons do very well is get to the foul line a lot, as they like to drive to the basket and draw fouls ranking 31st in the nation with a FTA/FGA percentage of 53.1 percent. That has enabled Air Force to score nearly one-quarter of its points (24.9 percent) from the foul line.

While Air Force is good offensively and flourishes in the altitude even when running, there is practically nothing that UC Riverside does well offensively. The Highlanders are ranked an awful 316th in the land in offensive efficiency while ranking 331st in three-point shooting and 211th in two-point shooting. It also does not help that they are very sloppy with the basketball, turning it over on 21.0 percent of their possessions vs. a national average of 18.5.

This is the second time this year that the Highlanders have faced a Mountain West team, and the first encounter ended disastrously with a 36-point loss 77-41 to San Diego State. Just about the only advantage Riverside has here is its size up front, but that can rather easily be neutralized by the combination of the Air Force pace and the thin air.

The reason that this posted line is not bigger is because Riverside can play defense, ranking a respectable 77th in the land in effective field goal percentage allowed at 46.3 percent. However, we are not sure how valid that figure is as the Highlanders have faced some inept offenses while tackling a non-conference schedule that ranks 304th in SOS.

Look for Air Force to end its non-conference home schedule in style, so give the points in Colorado Springs on Saturday.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Air Force -6 (-123)

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