NCAA Basketball Pick: Long Beach State vs. Hawaii

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, January 30, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

Two teams on short winning streaks square off in Big West play when the Long Beach State 49ers leave the mainland to visit the Hawaii Warriors late Thursday night.

Turnovers could end up telling the tale in a Big West matchup late Thursday night when the Long Beach State 49ers (7-12, 2-6 away) pay a visit to the Hawaii Warriors (14-5, 10-2 home) at the Stan Sheriff Center at 12:00 Midnight ET.

The point spread at Bet365 has Long Beach State as a decided road underdog for this contest with the current line at +7 with odds of -110.

Do not be fooled by the overall records of these teams as Hawaii has amassed its 14-5 record vs. a schedule ranked 269th in SOS, whereas Long Beach State has gone 7-12 against the second toughest schedule in the country that has included the likes of Arizona, Michigan and Creighton.

These teams have been even since the start of Big West play with identical 3-2 records. Hawaii’s three wins have come in the last three games consecutively after beginning conference play with losses to UC Davis and UC Irvine. Long Beach State has won two straight and three out of four since opening up its Big West schedule by also losing to that UC Irvine team.

Remember that because of its brutal schedule, Long Beach State was off to a 1-9 start this season before starting to begin to turn things around with a win over USC, and the 49ers are 6-3 from that point on with the only non-conference loss in that span coming in another difficult game at Missouri where they hung tough and covered the spread in a 69-59 loss.

That great non-conference competition has served the 49ers well during conference play, especially on the defensive end where Long Beach State is second in he Big West in efficiency and first in turnover percentage at 23.0 percent against a national average of 18.5 percent. Most of those turnovers have been steals as the 49ers lead the conference in steal percentage at 10.2 percent compared to a national average of 9.0 percent.

That is an area where Long Beach State can take advantage of a Hawaii team that is often loose with the basketball.

Hawaii is ranked just 97th overall on the Pomeroy Ratings despite the 14-5 record, which should give you an idea of just how weak its schedule has been. Yet, despite that schedule, the Warriors are only ranked 179th in defensive efficiency and 237th in effective field goal percentage allowed.

The Warriors beat Saint Mary’s and Oregon State during a tournament they hosted in Christmas season, but they have just one other win vs. a team ranked in the Pomeroy Top 100 and that was only 92nd ranked UC Irvine. Sure that are 10-2 at home but the losses did not come to a couple of powerhouses in New Mexico State and Boise State, so there is no reason why Long Beach State cannot compete here.

And that become especially true when you consider how easily Hawaii can get rattled by the 49ers pressure as the Warriors rank 121st in the country in offensive turnover percentage and they are dead last during Big West play in having the ball stolen with an offensive steal percentage of 11.2 percent.

Thus, look for a lot of Long Beach State steals leading to transition points and a cover at Hawaii late night Thursday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Long Beach State +7 (-110)