NCAA Basketball Pick: Northern Arizona +16 over Weber State

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, January 17, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Weber State is a leading candidate to win the Big Sly Conference this season, but Northern Arizona is shooting the ball well lately and could score enough points to hang close.

The underdog has a chance to keep the score respectable Thursday night when those Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (5-11, 1-7 away) pay a visit to the Weber State Wildcats (11-3, 6-1 home) at the Dee Events Center in Ogden, UT at 9:00 ET.

The point spread at 5 Dimes has Northern Arizona as a huge underdog for this contest with the current line at +16 with odds of -103.

Weber State is a serious candidate to win the Big Sky Conference this season after falling one win shy of making the NCAA Tournament last season, losing in the conference championship game to the Montana Grizzlies. The Wildcats are already off to a 6-0 start in conference play this season, and they have won seven consecutive games overall.

This is not a team without weaknesses though and the Wildcats have faced a schedule ranked 309th in SOS, so giving this many points does seem rather dicey vs. what may be an improving Lumberjacks team.

Two major weaknesses for Weber State are offensive rebounding and forcing turnovers on defense. The Wildcats rank just 285th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, grabbing their own missed shots only 28.1 percent of the time compared to a national average of 32.1 percent. That lack of second chances makes it hard for any team to cover large spreads like this unless it is hitting on a very high percentage of its shots.

Moreover, Weber State is ranked a dismal 321st in defensive turnover percentage, only turning teams over 16.9 percent of the time compared to a national average of 20.6 percent. That means that opposing teams can basically run whatever they want on offense, and if the Wildcats play more methodical opponents, those clubs can milk the clock on every possession which again is not ideal when giving double-digits.

Now, Northern Arizona does not grade out well offensively over the entire season, ranking only 293rd in offensive efficiency and 223rd in effective field goal percentage. However, unlike Weber State, the Lumberjacks did not shy away from stiff competition early on, facing a non-conference schedule ranked 20th in the nation in SOS.

Apparently NAU picked up some good habits while facing major conference schools as it has shot the ball much better as of late, including shooting a blazing 56.4 percent (31-for-55) in an unlucky 79-74 loss to the Portland State Vikings on Saturday. Given Weber State’s lack of defensive pressure, the Lumberjacks should shoot the ball reasonably well again tonight.

That should be reason enough to grab the huge points with Northern Arizona on Thursday.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Northern Arizona +16 (-103)

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