NCAA Basketball Pick: Cal Santa Barbara +5½ over Pacific

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, March 14, 2013 4:00 AM GMT

Pacific won 19 games this year but the Tigers rely heavily on three-point shooting and they were not nearly as good in that area away from home so take the points with Cal Santa Barbara.

The favorite was not nearly as good away from home this season so the points seem worth taking Wednesday when the underdog Cal Santa Barbara Gauchos (11-19, 3-13 away) take on those Pacific Tigers (19-12, 4-9 away) in the opening round of the Big West Conference Tournament at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA at 3:00 ET.

The point spread at 5 Dimes has Cal Santa Barbara as a decided underdog for this contest with the current line at +5½ with odds of -102.

These teams have made a habit of meeting in this tournament as they also met the last two seasons with Cal Santa Barbara winning on both occasions. In fact, Santa Barbara has advanced to the Big West Championship Game each of the last three years.

This year it is Pacific that is the two-seed though whole the Gauchos had to win their last three games just to move up to the seventh seed. Still, with this game at a neutral site in Anaheim, these teams actually had similar scoring averages on the road so expect a tight battle.

Now Pacific was a great home team this year going 13-2 in Stockton, and this is an excellent three-point shooting team that is ranked an outstanding 14th in the entire country in three-point percentage at 38.9 percent. However, while the Tigers were lethal when spotting up behind the three-point arc at home, it was a totally different story away from home as they hit a mere 31.5 percent of their treys on the road.

The Tigers have trouble scoring when they are not making threes because that are only ranked 179th in two-point shooting at 47.6 percent, so as a result they only averaged 62.1 points per game while going 4-9 on the road. It did not help matters that Pacific also ranked 162nd in defensive efficiency and 236th in effective field goal percentage allowed.

Now Santa Barbara was a disappointment this season in the standings going 7-11 in Big West play, but the Gauchos played in a lot of hard luck with seven of those losses being by seven points or less and, as mentioned, they come in on a bit of a roll having won three straight. Also this is certainly a program that has become accustomed to making deep runs in this tournament.

The Gauchos averaged 63.0 points on the road this season, which is actually nearly a full point higher than what Pacific averaged away from home, and although UCSB went 2-9 straight up in road conference games, it was 6-3 ATS in those contests while losing by an average of 4.5 points, a margin that would cover this point spread.

Finally San Barbara won the last head-to-head meeting, albeit at home, by 13 points 66-53. Look for Pacific’s three-point struggles away from home to continue so take the points with the UCSB Gauchos on Wednesday.

[gameodds]14/224589/19-238-93-92-1096/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Cal Santa Barbara +5½ (-102)