NCAA Basketball Pick on CIT Championship Game Side

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, April 2, 2015 3:20 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 2, 2015 3:20 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 Thursday.


We have reached the Championship Game of the CIT Thursday night and the home team appears to have a decided advantage when the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (23-14, 8-10 away) pay a visit to those Evansville Purple Aces (23-12, 13-5 home) at the Ford Center in Evansville, IN at 7:00 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.

The point spread at Bet365 has Evansville as a decided home favorite for this contest with the current line at -7½ with odds of -110.

Evansville Has Been More Impressive
While both of these teams have had to win four games in this CIT to reach this championship game, Evansville has been the more impressive team while doing so with the four wins coming by an average of exactly +10.0 points. Most recently the Purple Aces had an easy time with Tennessee-Martin 79-66 here at home Tuesday, and if you go back to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, Evansville is currently on a 4-1 ATS run.

On the other hand, all four wins by the Lumberjacks have been by single-digits, most recently being the winning NCAA Basketball picks 68-61 at home over NJIT on Tuesday. Moreover, that seven-point winning margin was actually the biggest for Northern Arizona in this tournament including a win by one point in overtime also at home in its previous game vs. Kent State.

Far Superior Conference
Evansville hails from the far superior conference here as the Missouri Valley Conference is ranked eighth as a whole on the Pomeroy Ratings, making it one of the top two mid-major conferences in the country along with the Atlantic 10. In fact, the Purple Aces were one of only two teams to beat Northern Iowa in Missouri Valley play this season, with the only other team to do so being the other NCAA Tournament participant from the conference, Wichita State.

Evansville may not blow you away in any individual category, but this is a well-coached team under Marty Simmons that does everything well with the exception of offensive rebounding, which could be a concern vs. a Northern Arizona team with good rebounding stats but vs. lesser teams.

Offensively, Evansville is ranked 114th in adjusted offensive efficiency but is still above the national average with 104.5 points per 100 possessions vs. a norm of 102.0 points. It is a good 51st in effective field goal percentage at 52.3 percent, thanks to ranking 38th in two-point shooting at 51.8 percent while also shooting an above average 35.9 percent from three-point land.

Defensively, the Purple Aces are 111th in adjusted efficiency but again better than average allowing 99.8 points per 100 possessions. Add this all up and Evansville is ranked 100th on Pomeroy overall.

Terrible Travel Spot for Northern Arizona
That ranking is 74 spots higher than 174th ranked Northern Arizona, and the Lumberjacks come out of a Big Sky Conference that is ranked only 26th on Pomeroy! Yes the Lumberjacks have been good bets in general this season going 18-11-4 ATS, but that has come vs. a schedule ranked just 261st in SOS and Northern Arizona shows just one win vs. a team currently ranked higher than Evansville on Pomeroy, with that being 77th ranked St. Mary’s back in December.

And despite facing that weak schedule, the Lumberjacks are still offensively challenged ranking 207th in the country in offensive efficiency and a dismal 290th in effective field goal percentage at 46.2 percent, which does not bode well for them now taking on a Missouri Valley defense. Moreover the news is not much better defensively where NAU is 147th in defensive efficiency and 156th in effective field goal percentage allowed at 48.7 percent.

Also do not forget that this is a terrible travel spot for Northern Arizona as it was at home for its win over NJIT Tuesday night and then had to make the long flight to Indiana for this contest just two nights later.

Almost Always Stepping Up in Non-Conference Play
Finally, Evansville generally enjoys stepping out of the MVC as its current run in this tournament leaves it at a scintillating 21-8-2 ATS in its last 31 non-conference games!

Look for that pattern to continue in the biggest game of the season for Evansville as the Purple Aces win handily probably by double-digits over Northern Arizona in the CIT Championship Game on Thursday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Evansville -7½ (-110)

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