NCAA Basketball Pick: George Mason -4 over South Florida

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, December 4, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

In a game between teams with similar stats in other areas, rebounding and home court should make the difference when George Mason hosts South Florida on Wednesday.

The home team looks to remain undefeated in its own building Wednesday night when the South Florida Bulls (4-2, 1-0 away) pay a visit to those George Mason Patriots (5-2, 4-0 home) at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, VA at 7:00 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has George Mason as a home favorite for this contest with the current line at -4 with odds of -111.

George Mason began this season 4-0 before losing two straight games on the road to the Princeton Tigers and Iona Gaels, but the Patriots snapped that streak and improved to 4-0 at home with a 61-54 win over the Rhode Island Rams on Saturday. George Mason is currently ranked 112th overall on the early Pomeroy Ratings.

That that may not sound like much, but it is still significantly higher than 141st ranked South Florida. The Bulls also started the year 4-0, but they have now lost two straight games with both losses coming back at home, which is not a good sign. Granted the first loss came to a powerful Oklahoma State team, which is certainly forgivable, but South Florida then blew an eight-point halftime lead in a 65-60 home loss Saturday to a Detroit team ranked 148th on Pomeroy.

George Mason has almost always won with defense, and this year is no exception with the Patriots allowing 63.4 points per game on a just 42.8 percent shooting. That has propelled George Mason to a nice 58th ranking nationally in defensive efficiency, which has helped offset a stagnant offense that ranks 197th in efficiency.

The Patriots rank 40th in defensive turnover percentage, turning opposing teams over on 21.2 percent of their possessions against a national average of 18.4 percent, but perhaps the biggest edge they have over the Bulls in this game is that they do not yield many second chance opportunities, ranking 18th in the land in defensive rebounding percentage. That becomes crucial when you consider how similar these teams are in most other areas.

South Florida is now part of the fledging American Athletic Conference after being part of the “old” Big East for many years, joining such familiar teams as Louisville, Connecticut and Cincinnati that made the same move. The Bulls’ style of play however has not changed with the switch, as just like recent seasons, this team can play defense but is offensively challenged.

If that sounds a lot like George Mason, well, it is because it is! In fact South Florida is ranked just one spot ahead of the Patriots in offensive efficiency at 196th, and while the Bulls lag a bit behind in defensive efficiency at a still respectable 97th, they rank higher in effective field goal percentage allowed, reporting home 30th at 43.8 percent.

So how does a team that seemingly plays such stiff defense not rank higher in defensive efficiency? Well, that goes back to our biggest key of this game, as while George Mason hardly allows many second chances, the Bulls have allowed a ton of them while ranking a horrendous 312th in defensive rebounding percentage, allowing opponents to rebound their own misses a generous 38.2 percent of the time compared to a national average of 31.9 percent!

That expected disparity in second chance points in favor of George Mason combined with home court should be enough to help the Patriots safely improve to 5-0 at home on Wednesday.

[gameodds]14/251366/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: George Mason -4 (-111)

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