NCAA Basketball Pick: James Madison Dukes vs. Towson Tigers

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

The Towson Tigers are one of the favorites to win the CAA this year, but they are still staring up at Delaware in the conference standings as they host James Madison Tuesday.

One of the preseason favorites to win the CAA this season could have its hands full Tuesday night when the pesky James Madison Dukes (8-14, 4-8 away) pay a visit to those Towson Tigers (14-8, 11-1 home) at SECU Arena in Towson, MD at 7:00 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has James Madison as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +7 with odds of -110.

Towson is a program on the rise, and the Tigers built a brand new facility this year and were one of the favorites to win the CAA before the season. Well, they are 11-1 in their brand new gymnasium although the lone loss could ultimately prove costly as it came in conference vs. Northeastern, and they find themselves in second place in the conference standings at 5-2, albeit five games behind 9-0 Delaware.

James Madison may have the reversed record that Towson has overall with the Dukes sitting at just 8-14, but they always give it there all and their results have been getting better lately. Add in that the strength of the James Madison team, which is forcing turnovers, matches up well with a Towson weakness and the Dukes may be able to score enough in transition here to take this game down to the wire if not pull the outright stunner.

The Dukes won the turnover battle 15-5 the last time these teams play last season and came away with a 75-70 win, and they know that they will probably have to do so again to have a chance in this game as there is no disputing that Towson has the better raw talent this year. And the good news is that they probably will win the turnover war again!

You see, while James Madison grades out above average nationally in defensive turnover percentage at 19.4 percent against a national average of 18.5 percent, they have taken that pressure to another level during CAA play at 21.0 percent, easily the best in the conference. That great rate has been fueled by leading the conference in steal percentage at 10.5 percent compared to a national average of 9.0 percent.

Yes, that has only resulted in a 3-5 conference mark but keep in mind the Dukes got off to a 1-4 CAA start, and they are two points away from being .500 in the conference and on a three-game winning streak right now, as after nice wins over College of Charleston and Northeastern, James Madison was nipped 81-79 by William & Mary last game in a strong effort, especially considering that William & Mary had routed the Dukes 78-56 three games earlier.

That feisty Madison defense could cause problems for Towson, which came very close to losing for the second time in the last three games at the new SECU Arena in a narrow 75-73 win over Drexel on Saturday. The Tigers lost the turnover battle 11-6 in that contest which nearly cost them the game, and that has been a recurring theme this season with Towson ranking 225th in the country in offensive turnover percentage at 19.2 percent.

That loose ball-handling makes Towson a risky favorite vs. a team that forces turnovers like the Dukes do, so take the points with James Madison on Tuesday.

[gameodds]14/256752/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: James Madison +7 (-110)