Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Thursday.
The home favorite has a real chance at a double-digit victory Thursday night when the San Diego Toreros (4-5, 0-2 away) pay a visit to those UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (4-4, 2-0 home) at The Thunderdome in Santa Barbara, CA at 10:00 ET.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has UC Santa Barbara as a decided home favorite for this contest with the current line at -7½ with odds of -103.
Toughened by Nice Schedule
Do not be fooled by the Gauchos’ 4-4 record as that have played an ambitious non-conference schedule with all four of their losses coming vs. teams ranked in the top 100 on the Pomeroy Ratings. Furthermore, two of the losses have come in overtime and in the other two losses, Santa Barbara only lost by 10 points on the road at eighth ranked Kansas and by two points to Colorado State on a neutral floor in Anchorage, Alaska.
San Diego was off to a 4-2 start this season but has now been the losing NCAA Basketball picks in three straight games. To be fair though, the last two losses have come to Pomeroy Top 40 teams in San Diego State and UCLA, but the loss that began the current streak vs. 146th ranked Western Michigan in Anaheim was the worst loss for either of these schools this young season.
Solid Gauchos on Both Ends
UCSB comes off of a solid 21-9 season that included finishing second in the Big West during the regular season at 12-4, one game behind 13-3 UC Irvine. However, the season ended in disappointment for the Gauchos with a first round upset loss to Cal Poly in the Big West Tournament, and they then did not participate in any post-season tournaments.
The Gauchos have their eyes set on a Big West title this season and they have done nothing yet to disprove that they are legitimate candidates to win that title despite the four losses. In fact, the Gauchos have gone 4-1-1 ATS in all of their lined games vs. a schedule rated 21st overall in SOS according to Pomeroy, and the lone non-cover came in a win over Rider, meaning that UCSB has covered the spreads in all four losses to Pomeroy 100 teams.
And this is a team with good balance as it is ranked 61st in the country in offensive efficiency and 75th in defensive efficiency, helping lead to a good 64th ranking overall. The Gauchos should be able to run their offense basically unhindered here as they are ranked 38th in offensive turnover percentage (and vs. a strong schedule to boot) while San Diego is just 159th in defensive turnover percentage.
Moreover do not forget about the Santa Barbara defense, which is ranked a terrific 13th in effective filed goal percentage allowed at a mere 40.4 percent, thanks to ranking 32nd in two-point defense (40.9 percent) and 18th in three-point defense (26.1).
A Notch Below WCC Big Three
San Diego comes out of the West Coast Conference, where it greatest feat during a rather nondescript 18-17 season was beating two-thirds of the Big Three of that conference in Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s both at home. Unfortunately the Toreros lack the consistency to post those big wins more often and they did not play nearly as well on the road last season, so at best they probably top the second tier of the WCC behind those two schools and BYU.
Now the good news for San Diego this year is that four of its five losses have come to Pomeroy 100 teams. But the bad news is that the Toreros have that one bad loss to WMU that Santa Barbara lacks and while UCSB is a perfect 4-0 ATS vs. the four top teams it faced, San Diego is 2-2 ATS in those four defeats.
Turnovers Another Key
Finally, we mentioned how well UCSB protects the basketball and how that does not figure to change here given the minimal pressure that San Diego has applied. On the other side, the Toreros are have been sloppy with the ball ranking 220th in offensive turnover percentage at 20.9 percent, failing to correct one of their biggest weaknesses from last season when they ranked 205th in that category for the whole year.
Add in how much San Diego’s play has digressed on the road in recent years and UC Santa Barbara seems like a strong candidate for a decisive double-digit win at home on Thursday.
NCAA Basketball Pick: UC Santa Barbara -7½ (-103)