NCAA Basketball Pick: BYU Cougars vs. San Francisco Dons

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, January 16, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

The BYU Cougars are looking to pick up their play on the road to match their home play as they visit the San Francisco Dons in WCC action on ESPNU on Thursday.

The road difficulties of the visiting team could rear its ugly head again Thursday night when those BYU Cougars (11-7, 1-5 away) pay a visit to the San Francisco Dons (11-7, 8-3 home) at War Memorial Gymnasium in San Francisco, CA at 9:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPNU.

The point spread at Bet365 has San Francisco as a home underdog for this contest with the current line at +3 with odds of -110.

BYU may be ranked 51st overall on the Pomeroy Ratings compared to just 120th for San Francisco, but the Cougars’ play on the road may have them ripe for an upset. You see, BYU won its first true road game of the season at Stanford but it has lost five straight games away from home since then!

And the Cougars are visiting a tough venue as San Francisco has played well at home going 8-3 straight up with an average margin of +6.8 points, and the Dons lead the Cougars by one-half game in the conference standings at 4-2 inside the WCC despite a loss on the road at St. Mary’s when they last played Saturday.

BYU is 3-2 in WCC play having won three straight since an 0-2 start, but true to the Cougars’ overall form those last three wins have come at home while the first two losses were at Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount. Moreover, Pepperdine is currently ranked 132nd on the Pomeroy Ratings and LMU grades out worse at 142nd, so it is not as if the Cougars are losing to superior teams when they hit the road.

This is simply a bad road team, making the Pomeroy rankings of 51st overall, 45th in offensive efficiency and 76th in defensive efficiency misleading in this case because of the vast home vs. away disparity that BYU possesses. Pomeroy numbers are based on overall performance, which means that BYU is actually one of the best home teams in the country, although that obviously does not help here.

There is one area where BYU is lacking regardless of the venue and that is in the ability to turn opposing teams over, as the Cougars are an ugly 306th in the country in defensive turnover percentage at just 15.9 percent vs. a national average of 18.5 percent.

That could prove fatal here in San Francisco, as offense is the Dons’ strong suit and they should be able to run their offense unencumbered. San Francisco has faced a good schedule ranked 63rd in SOS yet has managed to rank 35th in offensive efficiency while averaging a very good 78.4 points per game, ranking an excellent 29th in effective field goal percentage thanks to hitting 37.7 percent of its three-point shots and 53.2 percent of its two-pointers.

The Dons have been especially lethal at home averaging 80.4 points on a whopping 50.2 percent shooting overall and 39.2 percent shooting from beyond the three-point arc at War Memorial Gym, where they have won four straight games including winning both of their WCC home games by double-digits.

All of this makes San Francisco a dangerous home underdog so take the points on Thursday.

[gameodds]14/255027/?r-1=43-238-92-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: San Francisco +3 (-110)