NCAA Basketball Pick on CIT Championship Game Total

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, April 2, 2015 3:59 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 2, 2015 3:59 PM UTC

Each day the LT Profits Sports Group seeks out a total that simply does not add up and therefore offers the most value that day. Here is their Total Value Play of the Day for Thursday.


The CIT Championship Game has now arrived on Thursday night and the posted total seems a bit inflated considering we expect just one team to be doing most of the scoring when the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (23-14, 8-10 away) of the Big Sky Conference pay a visit to the Evansville Purple Aces (23-12, 13-5 home) of the Missouri Valley Conference at the Ford Center in Evansville, IN at 7:00 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.

The posted total at Bet365 is 142 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -110.

Evansville Probably the Stronger Side
We have already made a side selection on this CIT Championship on Evansville as they simply grade out as the better team from the far superior conference, but we are now turning out attention to the total as we feel that Evansville will gets its share of points but not enough to compensate for the expected lack of offense from Northern Arizona, giving value to the ‘under’ on any total set higher than 140.

Northern Arizona is now 23-14 with its CIT run, which came after being the losing NCAA Basketball pick to Montana in the semifinals of the Big Sky Tournament, but that is a conference ranked a poor 26th as a whole on the Pomeroy Ratings compared to an eighth ranking for the Missouri Valley Conference from which Evansville hails, so the Lumberjacks seem a bit outclassed here.

Struggling Offense Despite Easy Schedule
In fact, Northern Arizona is ranked just 174th overall on the Pomeroy Ratings, which is 74 spots lower than 100th ranked Evansville, and part of the reason for that bit of disrespect for the Lumberjacks is facing a weak schedule ranked a mere 261st in SOS, with the only win over a Pomeroy Top 100 team all season coming over a St. Mary’s team ranked 77th back on December 16th.

And yet, despite facing such a weak schedule, Northern Arizona has still struggled offensively ranking 207th in the country in offensive efficiency and a poor 290th in effective field goal percentage at just 46.2 percent. That certainly does not bode well for the Lumberjacks now facing a Missouri Valley defense on the road. NAU is ranked 143rd in the country in points scored at 68.7 per game and 306th in field goal percentage at only 40.4 percent.

Furthermore, this is not your typical road game for the Lumberjacks either as besides stepping up in class, they may be playing with tired legs after playing at home in Flagstaff while beating NJIT Tuesday night and then having to make the long flight to Indiana for this championship game just two nights later, so they may shoot worse than their already weak shooting averages in this contest.

Efficient but Not Sensational Offensively
Evansville went 9-9 inside the Missouri Valley, but that is actually quite respectable and especially so considering the opponent here, and the Purple Aces did after all knock off Northern Iowa during conference play, and Wichita State is the only other team that can make that claim. Still, while we feel that Evansville has the class edge to win this game by double-digits, we do not expect the Purple Aces to run up the score enough to put this game ‘over’.

Yes the Aces are above average in adjusted offensive efficiency, grading out at 104.5 points per 100 possessions vs. a national average of 102.0 points per 100 touches, and they are a good 51st in effective field goal percentage at 52.3 percent. However they do not get many second opportunities due to ranking 324th out of 351 Division I teams in offensive rebounding percentage and their 70.9 points per game is only 85th best in the country.

Evansville is also solid if unspectacular defensively, grading out better than average allowing 99.8 points per 100 possessions, and that should be good enough to contain the shaky Northern Arizona offense and help this ‘under’ along.

Nice ‘under’ Trend for Northern Arizona
Finally, being a bit offensively challenged is nothing new for Northern Arizona and that is a key reason why the ‘under’ is an eye-popping 53-22 in its last 75 non-conference games over recent seasons!

We see nothing in the breakdown of this contest to suspect this game should play out any differently at this relatively high posted number, so expect Northern Arizona and Evansville to stay ‘under’ when they play for the CIT Championship on Thursday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Northern Arizona, Evansville ‘under’ 142 (-110)

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