NCAA Basketball Pick: George Mason +5 over Princeton

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

George Mason and Princeton seem evenly matched so George Mason should have value as a dog, especially since Princeton does not figure to get many second chances Tuesday.

A lack of offensive rebounds by the favorite could lead to an underdog cover on Tuesday night when the George Mason Patriots (4-1, 1-1 away) pay a visit to the Princeton Tigers (3-1, 2-0 home) at Jadwin Gymnasium in Princeton, NJ at 8:00 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has George Mason as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +5 with odds of -106.

George Mason is making the jump this season from the CAA to the Atlantic 10, which is one of the better mid-major conferences in the country. The Patriots have made fine accounts of themselves vs. tough non-conference schedules in the past though, and we feel that they can handle this jump and be very competitive in their new conference, thanks to their trademark fine defense.

Princeton obviously comes out of the much weaker Ivy League, and early indications are that the Tigers are still plagued by the same offensive rebounding problems they had last season despite getting off to a 3-1 start this year. In a game where these teams match up very closely in most other areas, that lack of second chance opportunities could be enough to allow the underdog Patriots to cover this spread and possibly pull the upset.

George Mason was off to a 4-0 start in its first season as a member of the Atlantic 10 before losing at Iona Saturday, which also marked the first game this season in which the Patriots were out-rebounded (34-31). That does not figure to be the case tonight however, especially on the Patriots’ defensive end. And that is crucial because these teams are so close in other areas.

The strength of George Mason has traditionally been defense, and this year is no different as the Patriot are ranked 71st in defensive efficiency early compared to just 191st in offensive efficiency. They are limiting opponents to a 46.2 percent effective field goal percentage and forcing turnovers on 20.3 percent of their possessions compared to a national average of 18.4 percent.

Offensively, the biggest problem for George Mason is turning the ball over a dreadful 23.6 percent of the time itself, but the Princeton defense ranks just 203rd nationally at forcing turnovers at 17.7 percent.

Princeton was just 17-11 last season although it did finish 10-4 inside the Ivy League, one game behind Harvard. And the Tigers look like Ivy contenders again this year, although it must be pointed out that they have not beaten much with their three wins coming vs. Florida A&M, Lafayette and Rice.

The Tigers do ran k a respectable 60th in effective field goal percentage at 53.8 percent, but that gets counteracted by the George Mason defense. Princeton has also protected the ball well turning it over 15.7 percent of the time, but again, the Patriots turn opponents over more than the opponents that Princeton has faced so far, so that too washes out.

That brings us to the one glaring difference in this contest, as Princeton is a dismal 248th in the early going in offensive rebounding percentage, a continuation of last season when the Tigers finished 234th in that department. On the other hand, George Mason is an excellent 36th in defensive rebounding percentage, meaning that the Tigers do not figure to get many second chance opportunities.

In a game where the teams are well matched elsewhere, that expected difference in second chance points should result in an underdog cover and maybe an upset by George Mason on Tuesday.

[gameodds]14/250670/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: George Mason +5 (-106)