The Denver Pioneers have lost two straight games while the San Diego Toreros have won three straight, but Denver grades out better on both ends of the court and should prevail.
There could be good underdog value out west late Wednesday night when the Denver Pioneers (5-3, 3-4 ATS) from the Summit League pay a visit to the slightly favored San Diego Toreros (3-5, 3-4 ATS) of the West Coast Conference in non-conference action from Jenny Craig Pavilion in San Diego, CA at 10:00 ET with live streaming available at TheW.tv
Opposite Season So Far
Denver comes off of a disappointing 12-18 season a year ago, but this season began much better under Coach Joe Scott as the Pioneers won five straight games following an opening loss to Milwaukee on a neutral court in Santa Clara. However, they have now dropped two straight games to Wyoming and Air Force to drop to 5-3.
Meanwhile, the San Diego season has been the polar opposite of Denver thus far as the Toreros got off of to a terrible start losing their first five games, and other than an opening loss to USC, it was not as if they were losing to quality teams as the other four defeats came to teams currently ranked 155th or worse on the Pomeroy Ratings. However San Diego has turned things around by being the winning NCAA Basketball pick in the last three games to get to 3-5.
Denver Efficient Offensively
Denver has always played at a notoriously slow pace and this year is no exception with the Pioneers ranked 350th out of 351 Division I teams in tempo rating with only American playing at a slower pace. Still, that methodical approach has led to good shots more often than not with Denver shooting 48.4 percent from the field overall, and this team hardly misses closer to the basket ranking an amazing ninth in the country in two-point shooting at 58.6 percent!
The Pioneers are not dreadful from three-point land either at 36.6 percent, so the end result has been an effective field goal percentage of 56.9 percent that is ranked 16th in the nation. As for the other end, Denver applies nice pressure defensively ranking 16th in defensive turnover percentage at 23.7 percent vs. a national average of 18.7 percent, and that pressure could easily rattle a struggling San Diego offense here even on the road.
San Diego Struggles to Score
The Toreros may come from the stronger conference while knocking heads with the likes of Gonzaga, BYU and Saint Mary’s twice per season, but they had not faced a daunting schedule this season yet prior to a shocking upset over the rival San Diego State Aztecs on Sunday 53-48 as 17-point underdogs, That big win could put San Diego in a letdown spot here though, and Denver does not figure to shoot 31.2 percent like the Aztecs did (15-for-48).
In fact, San Diego pulled off that stunner despite shooting just 33.3 percent (18-for-54) in its own right, and unfortunately that kind of shooting has become commonplace for a Toreros team averaging a mere 59.0 points on a pitiful 37.1 percent shooting for the season. San Diego has also been prone to turnovers ranking 292nd in offensive turnover percentage at 21.1 percent, making the Toreros susceptible to the aforementioned Denver pressure.
On the flipside the Toreros do not apply much pressure themselves turning opponents over only 16.4 percent of the time to rank 281st in that category, which means that the methodical but highly efficient Denver offense can go about its business basically unhindered here.
Covering on the Road
Finally, although Denver has a bigger home court advantage than most other teams because of playing in high altitude, the Pioneers have held their own at sea level also going 5-1 ATS in their last six road games. Meanwhile, San Diego has gone just 3-9 ATS in its last 12 games following a straight up win and 1-10 ATS in its last 11 after allowing less than 50 points!
Thus, look for some correction in this game with Denver snapping its losing streak at two while also snapping the three-game winning streak of San Diego on the road late Wednesday night.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Denver +1½ (-110)