NCAA Basketball Pick: Hampton Pirates vs. Morgan State Bears

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, February 3, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

Monday, Feb. 3, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

The MEAC gets some national television exposure when the Hamptons Pirates, who are 6-2 in the conference, visit the 5-2 Morgan State Bears on ESPNU Monday.

The MEAC may be one of the lower rated conferences in the country, but that does not mean that there is no value to be found Monday night when the underdog Hampton Pirates (11-10, 5-5 away) pay a visit to the Morgan State Bears (7-12, 4-2 home) at Hill Field House in Baltimore, MD at 7:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPNU.

The point spread at Bet365 has Hampton as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +4½ with odds of -110.

The MEAC is ranked 31st among the 33 Division I conferences according to the Pomeroy Ratings, but one by product of that is that very little separates the teams in the conference meaning that the underdogs usually have some inherent value.

And in this case, the underdogs from Hampton have the better overall record and they are one-half game ahead of Morgan State entering this game in the conference standings at 6-2, compared to 5-2 for the Bears. However, favored Morgan State is ranked higher on the Pomeroy Ratings at 193rd compared to 229th for Hampton.

Still, the Pirates have shown enough that they are more than capable of a big outing on the road here. Following a disappointing 14-17 season a year ago that included an 11-5 conference mark but a first round exit in the MEAC Tournament, Hampton has looked like a legitimate threat to win the conference this year and earn the automatic NCAA Tournament bid that comes along with doing so.

Not only are the Pirates 6-2 in MEAC play, but they are 4-0 on the road inside the conference including winning the first three game of a four-game road trip that ends tonight. While some teams may feel content tonight with a winning road trip assured, Hampton knows that it cannot afford to do so as Morgan State is another conference title contender and a win tonight would assure the Pirates that they are no worse than tied for second in the conference at day’s end.

While no MEAC team is going to grade out particularly well on Pomeroy nationally, Hampton is well balanced when looking a conference games only, ranking second in the conference in effective field goal percentage offensively while leading the conference in effective field goal percentage allowed, three-point defense and two-point defense on the other end of the court.

Now, we get that the 7-12 record of Morgan State is deceptive as the Bears faced an excellent non-conference schedule ranked 40th in the country in non-conference SOS, so the improvement of the Bears in MEAC play is not surprising. However, when looking at conference games only, Morgan State does lag behind Hampton in just about every category except rebounding, where the Bears lead the conference defensively and rank second on the offensive glass.

However, as that edge big enough to warrant Morgan State being favored by 4½ points here? After all, Hampton has had the far superior defense and while Morgan State is second in the conference in offensive efficiency that is entirely due to the rebounding because the Bears are only fifth in the MEAC in effective field goal percentage.

Add in the fine play by Hampton on the road in conference play so far and the Pirates with the points get our call for Monday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Hampton +4½ (-110)

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