NCAA Basketball Pick: East Carolina -3½ over Loyola-Maryland

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 4:00 AM GMT

Tuesday, Mar. 26, 2013 4:00 AM GMT

East Carolina just blew out one MAAC school at home Saturday in Rider and the Pirates now get to host another one in Loyola-Maryland in the quarterfinals of the CIT Tournament Tuesday.

The home teams gets a chance to knock off its second straight MAAC opponent in the CIT on Tuesday when the Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds (23-11, 7-7 away) out of the MAAC pay a visit to those East Carolina Pirates (20-12, 15-4 home) at Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum in Greenville, NC at 7:00 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has East Carolina as a rather modest home favorite for this contest with the current line at -3½ with odds of -106.

East Carolina finished fifth in Conference USA this season and then bowed out to Tulsa 79-72 in their first Conference USA Tournament game, resulting in the Pirates settling for an invite to the lesser CIT.

They had a tough time with a Savannah State defense that surprisingly ranks 31st in the country in efficiency and 11th in effective field goal percentage allowed before escaping 66-65 in the first round, and they then had a nice tune-up for tonight’s MAAC opponent by routing a Rider Broncs team out of the same conference 75-54 here in this same arena on Saturday.

That game was a contrast in styles, and the Pirates were able to force the tempo by turning it into a 69-possession game against a Rider team they prefers a slower pace. Because the Pirates have a deep rotation that goes nine players deep, they are able to run while having relatively fresh legs on the court at all times, and as a result, they rank 56th in the country with a tempo rating of 68.7 possessions per game.

Now East Carolina may be only 79th on offensive efficiency and 77th in effective field goal percentage at 50.9 percent, but apparently that percentage is good enough given all of the shots that the Pirates get off as they are averaging a nice 76.6 points per game. Do not be surprised if this game plays out exactly the way Saturday’s game did, with East Carolina being the aggressor at home and getting the game played at its pace.

Loyola-Maryland actually had a nice year going 21-10 during the regular season including 12-6 in the MAAC, but the Greyhounds them lost their first game of the MAAC Tournament to Manhattan.

They advanced to this quarterfinal round with home wins over Boston U. and Kent State, but Loyola is another team that prefers a slower pace, ranking 261st with a tempo rating of 64.0 possessions. Also, the Greyhounds are not a good shooting team, ranking 240th in effective field goal percentage at 47.1 percent, instead relying on their defense which ranks a respectable 63rd in effective field goal percentage against.

Thus, playing at a faster pace than Loyola likes would only further accentuate the disparity in the shooting abilities of these two teams. Furthermore, even with their two CIT wins, the Greyhounds have still not beaten much out of conference this season ranking only 243rd in non-conference SOS.

East Carolina is the better shooting team from the better conference, and as long as the Pirates play at their pace they should win fairly handily on Tuesday.

[gameodds]14/225536/238-19-93-92-1096/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: East Carolina -3½ (-106)

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