NCAA Basketball Pick: Northern Arizona +7 over Northern Colorado

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, February 14, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

Northern Colorado does not deserve to be favored by this many points even at home, as its defense is terrible and it trails Northern Arizona in the Big Sky standings. Take the points.

The home team looks to be overvalued in the Big Sky Conference Thursday night when the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (9-15, 3-9 away) pay a visit to the Northern Colorado Bears (7-15, 5-4 home) at the Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion in Greeley, CO at 9:05 ET.

The point spread at 5 Dimes has Northern Arizona as a decided underdog for this contest with the current line at +7 with odds of -105.

This is a matchup of two bottom half teams in the Big Sky, but the underdog Lumberjacks are still one game ahead of the Bears in the conference standings at 6-8 and they are shooting the ball quite well in recent games.

That is bad news for the Bears, who have won just seven games all season and are languishing at 5-9 inside the conference. They have not gotten much salvation in their lined home game either, going 3-4 ATS in Greeley, and the problems can be directly attributed to their shoddy defense.

The raw numbers say that Northern Colorado is ranked 282nd in points against at 71.2 per game and 267th in field goal percentage allowed at 44.6 percent, and the Bears’ Pomeroy profile looks even worse. That is because they rank an atrocious 320th in defensive efficiency and 324th in effective field goal percentage allowed, and they have been vulnerable all over the floor, ranking 303rd in three-point defense and 315th in two-point defense.

The picture does not get any rosier when looking at Big Sky play only either, where the Bears rank 10th out of 11 teams in both defensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage allowed, and they are only eighth in defensive turnover percentage.

Now a few weeks ago the Bears probably would have been able to simply outscore the Lumberjacks, but Northern Arizona has turned a corner offensively as of late and now seems capable of taking advantage of NC’s vulnerable defense.

Yes the Lumberjacks rank only 140th in effective field goal percentage for the season at 49.1 percent, but remember that NAU played a nice non-conference schedule that included the likes of Oregon, UNLV and Arizona, so that effective field goal percentage has been understandably better in conference play at 50.7 percent.

In fact, the Lumberjacks are averaging 72.2 points on an excellent 49.8 percent shooting overall in the last five games. That has NAU up to 97th nationally in two-point offense at 49.2 percent, so the Lumberjacks do seem equipped to take advantage of a Northern Colorado two-point defense that is ranked 315th in the land at an extremely generous 52.2 percent.

The improvement of the Northern Arizona offense and the ineptness of the Northern Colorado defense make NAU an overlay at this price, so take the points on Thursday.

[gameodds]14/220694/19-238-93-92-1096/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Northern Arizona +7 (-105)

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