NCAA Basketball Pick: Cal Poly SLO -4 over Hawaii

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, January 9, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

The Cal Poly SLO Mustangs have faced the third toughest schedule in the country and that should serve them well when Hawaii comes to the mainland Thursday.

Facing one of the very toughest schedules in the country in the early going should serve the home team well Thursday night when the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (11-3, 1-0 away) leave the islands to pay a visit to those Cal Poly SLO Mustangs (4-9, 3-1 home) at Mott Gym in San Luis Obispo, CA at 10:00 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Cal Poly as a moderate home favorite for this contest with the current line at -4 with odds of -102.

Cal Poly has gotten better every season under Coach Joe Callero, and they had their best season yet under Callero last year going 18-14 overall and 12-6 in Big West play, even earning a berth in the CIT where it lost to one of the finalists in that tournament in Weber State. The Mustangs returned three starters from that team with a senior that played big minutes last season filling one of the other starting spots.

Hawaii is off to a surprising 11-3 start, but the Warriors have never been as good on the road as in the paradise of home and they have played just one true road game all season. Yes that trip resulted in a win, but that was vs. a Northern Arizona team out of the Big Sky Conference that is ranked just 260th on the Pomeroy Ratings. In fact, the whole Hawaii schedule should be brought into question as that 11-3 record has come vs. an SOS ranked 294th in the land.

The same thing can certainly not be said about Cal Poly, and in fact, the exact opposite is true. The Mustangs’ 4-9 record is extremely deceptive because they have literally faced one of the toughest schedules in the country ranked third in SOS! And yet Cal Poly covered the spread vs. top ranked Arizona, as well as vs. Pittsburgh and Santa Clara, and some of its bigger losses have come vs. the likes of Oregon and Stanford!

The Mustangs are facing no such foe here and playing at home also helps as they are 3-1 at home losing only to Nevada, and all three home wins have come by double-digits. The fourth Cal Poly win was also a blowout when the ‘Stangs beat North Dakota 70-43 in a tournament in Oregon. In other words, it seems like the brutal schedule has prepped Poly well for when it has winnable games, and this looks like another one here.

Cal Poly swept both meetings between these teams last season with the win here in San Luis Obispo coming in blowout fashion 88-59, to go along with a three-point win in Honolulu. The Warriors would obviously like to get some revenge here, but can they?

You see, the Warriors have lost to probably the three best teams they have faced this season in Boise State, New Mexico State and Missouri, and 10 of their 11 wins have come to teams currently ranked 117th or worse on Pomeroy including one meaningless win over Division II Hawaii-Hilo. Despite that weak schedule and good record, Hawaii is still ranked only 112th in the country in offensive efficiency and 125th in defensive efficiency.

Despite the discrepancy in the records of these teams, we will back the more battle-tested Cal Poly team at home over a Hawaii team with a suspect history on the road on Thursday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Cal Poly SLO -4 (-102)