NCAA Basketball Pick: Florida Atlantic +17 over Louisiana Tech

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, January 9, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

It is a brand new era when Florida Atlantic and Louisiana Tech play their first conference game in their first year in Conference USA, and FAU may be an overlay Thursday.

Two teams each beginning brand new chapters after moving to Conference USA this season meet in their conference opener Thursday when the underdog Florida Atlantic Owls (4-10, 0-7 away) pay a visit to the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (12-3, 8-1 home) at the Thomas Assembly Center in Ruston, LA at 7:30 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Florida Atlantic as a huge underdog for this contest with the current line at +17 with odds of -102.

Florida Atlantic made the move to Conference USA from the Sun Belt Conference and the transition has obviously not been a smooth one during the non-conference portion of the schedule, although having to face teams like Duke during non-conference play would hurt any team’s record. The fact of the matter is that the Owls have faced a schedule ranked 96th in the country in SOS, so they are probably not as bad as their 4-10 record.

On the flip side, Louisiana Tech may not be as good as its 12-3 mark when you consider that the Bulldogs have faced an SOS ranked just 254th in the land. The Bulldogs are making the move to C-USA from the WAC, in which they started 16-0 in conference play last season before losing their last two regular season games and then getting upset by UTSA in the WAC Tournament.

Florida Atlantic actually had some good efforts during non-conference play, as while they were blown out as expected by Duke, they fared much better vs. a couple of other ACC teams while losing by just four points to Maryland and three points to Boston College, both on the road. The Owls are a physical team that is against the mold of most of the finesse teams in their new conference, and that could lead to some upsets here and there.

The Owls are a good offensive rebounding team because of that physicality, grabbing their own missed shots 35.7 percent of the time against a national average of just 31.7 percent, and that is an excellent trait for a large double-digit underdog like this because those second opportunities can either lead to easy put-back buckets or allow the Owls to take the ball out and milk some clock, both of which are favorable for big underdogs.

Louisiana Tech actually has high hopes in its new conference and the Bulldogs would love to earn an NCAA Tournament spot as Conference USA Champions after their late season meltdown resulted in only an NIT bid last season, where to their credit the Bulldogs did upset Florida State before losing to Southern Miss in the second round.

Still, while there is little doubt that Louisiana Tech is the more talented team here, we are not so sure they are worthy of being the prohibitive favorites that they are after facing a non-conference slate where an overtime win over an Oklahoma team ranked 61st on the Pomeroy Ratings is probably their only “good” win.

Florida Atlantic may be better conditioned for this opening game in its now conference after facing the tougher non-conference schedule, and when you add in the Owls’ expected edge in offensive rebounds, they seem to present nice value at this overlay spread Thursday.

[gameodds]14/254259/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Florida Atlantic +17 (-102)

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