NCAA Basketball Pick: East Carolina -1 over Tulsa

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, March 14, 2013 4:00 AM GMT

East Carolina won four of its last five games including a win at Tulsa, and the Pirates ended the year on a 10-4-2 ATS run. Their offensive firepower should be too much for Tulsa.

The small favorite looks to have a sizable offensive advantage in the Conference USA Tournament on Thursday when those East Carolina Pirates (18-11, 5-7 away) take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (16-14, 6-7 away) at the Bank of Oklahoma Center in Tulsa, OK at 9:30 ET in a game televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network.

The point spread at Bookmaker Sportsbook has East Carolina as a tiny favorite for this contest with the current line at -1 with odds of -110.

East Carolina has one of the more potent offenses in Conference USA and it ended the season on a high note by winning four of its last five games including beating the Golden Hurricane in a true road game at Tulsa 72-63 on February 20th. That should lessen the impact of this game being played in Tulsa’s home city, especially since it is not a true home game.

The Pirates averaged 78.2 points over their final six games while topping 80 points three times, and they finished 80th in the country in offensive efficiency and 76th in effective field goal percentage, which is actually quite respectable for a team from a lowly regarded conference. East Carolina ranked fourth in both of those categories during Conference USA games only.

In case you have doubts about the legitimacy of the East Carolina offense, consider that it put up 61 points in the second half of a game at North Carolina early this season, the most points any team has scored in one half vs. the Tar Heels during the Roy Williams era.

Tulsa had no answer for East Carolina leading scorer Maurice Kemp three weeks ago as he scored 23 points on an efficient 9-for-14 shooting, and the Pirates’ assist leader Miguel Paul is coming off of a double-double in the season finale vs. Marshall with 22 points and 10 helpers. In fact, ECU ended the season on a nice 10-4-2 ATS run.

Now we realize that defense wins championships, but you still have to score some points and the Golden Hurricane have been struggling offensively all season. Tulsa is ranked just 237th in offensive efficiency and 170th in effective field goal percentage, and to make matters worse, it has tended to throw the ball all over the building while ranking a terrible 289th in offensive turnover percentage.

If East Carolina plays offense the way it has most of the year, we simply do not see Tulsa keeping pace despite having most of the crown support. With that in mind, we will take the better team at a cheap price and back East Carolina on Thursday.

[gameodds]14/224399/93-238-19-92-1096/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: East Carolina -1 (-110)