NCAA Basketball Pick: Navy Midshipmen vs. Colgate Raiders

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, March 3, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

Monday marks the first night of conference tournament play, and in the Patriot League 10th seeded Navy visits seventh seeded Colgate in opening round action.

The last place team in the Patriot League may actually hold value in the opening round of the conference tournament Monday night when those 10th seeded Navy Midshipmen (9-20, 2-14 away) pay a visit to the seventh seeded Colgate Raiders (12-17, 6-8 home) at Cotterell Court in Hamilton, NY at 7:00 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Navy as a double-digit underdog for this contest with the current line at +11 with positive odds of +100.

These teams are not on the betting board very often since the Patriot League is not a “lined” conference, so the only times you see these teams lined is either during tournaments like this or in national TV games. Bucknell won the Patriot League last season before losing to Butler in the NCAA Tournament and now these two teams are hoping to eventually earn that automatic berth to the Big Dance that goes to the winner of this tournament.

The odds are against either of these teams being that conference champion though. Colgate finished seventh in the conference with a 6-12 Patriot League mark. The Raiders did have three lined games this season, going 2-1 ATS including a cover at Georgetown before splitting vs. the number in two nationally televised league games. Navy was 10th and last in the conference at 4-14 and the Midshipmen have not had a single lined game this year until now.

Despite the standings of these teams, they are not separated by all they much record-wise either overall or in the conference, and we are not convinced a 12-17 team like Colgate deserves such prohibitive favoritism here. Navy enters this game on a four-game losing streak, but three of those four losses were by single-digits including a close 67-65 loss to Loyola MD to end the year.

One thing that Navy does do well is wreak havoc on defense by causing turnovers, and that is a key reason why the Midshipmen rank a commendable 61st in the country in points against at just 65.5 per game. Navy is 41st in the nation in defensive turnover percentage at 20.8 percent, well above the national average of 18.4 percent, and that average actually goes up to 21.3 percent during league play, easily the best in the conference.

Navy’s last win before the four-game losing streak came vs. this Colgate team at home 71-61 with the Middies winning the turnover battle as usual, forcing the Raiders into 13 turnovers while only committing six themselves.

Colgate faced the likes of Syracuse and Georgetown during non-conference play, but those were the only Pomeroy Top 100 teams the Raiders faced all season so they cannot blame their schedule for their 12-17 record. And unlike Navy, Colgate does not have many redeeming qualities on defense as it ranks 290th nationally in defensive efficiency, 231st in effective field goal percentage allowed and, most unlike Navy, 314th in defensive turnover percentage.

Yes, Colgate can shoot the basketball on offense, ranking a remarkable third in the country in effective field goal percentage thanks to ranking third in three-point shooting at a terrific 40.9 percent. But as you can tell by their record, all of the great shooting was not enough to overcome the Raiders’ defensive deficiencies.

When you add in that Colgate is just 135th in offensive turnover percentage and turnovers made the difference in the outright win by Navy during the regular season, it would appear that the Midshipmen have value getting this many points, even on the road on Monday.

[gameodds]14/260630/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Navy +11 (+100)