NCAA Basketball Pick: Northern Colorado vs. Southern Utah

LT Profits Sports Group

Saturday, March 8, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

The Southern Utah Thunderbirds come off of their first win since opening day and their first vs. a Division I team this year, and they now host Northern Colorado Saturday.

The home team may have trouble duplicating its last performance vs. a team looking to improve its seeding for the Big Sky Tournament in the regular season finale Saturday evening as the Northern Colorado Bears (16-12, 3-10 away) pay a visit to the Southern Utah Thunderbirds (2-26, 2-10 home) at Centrum Arena in Cedar City, UT at 7:-00 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Northern Colorado as a big road favorite for this contest with the current line at -10 with odds of -102.

Southern Utah has the worst record in the country at 2-26, one-half game worse than Cornell which is at 2-25, and remember that the Thunderbirds opened up the season with a win over a Division II school in Southwestern Arizona. They then proceeded to lose 26 consecutive games until Thursday night, when they posted their first win over a Division I team this season by beating North Dakota 77-71 here at home.

They may now be simultaneously too excited and relieved however to get up for this game just two days later, and this game does have meaning to Northern Colorado as it looks to improve its seeding for the Big Sky Tournament, which begins in a few days. The Bears romped over the Thunderbirds easily 91-55 in the first meeting this season in Greeley.

The Bears won a game in the Big Sky Tournament last season before losing to the eventual conference champions from Montana, and Northern Colorado is hoping to make a deeper run this year and earn a post-season berth, even if it is not in the NCAA Tournament. But first the Bears may want to improve their seeding as they are currently in a three-way tie for fifth in the conference and could still finish anywhere from a four-seed to a seven-seed.

Their chance of getting a four-seed begins with a win here though, and we simply do not see the Bears slipping up in a meaningful game vs. the worst team in the county. And the fact that Southern Utah got that elusive win on Thursday works against them here as Northern Colorado will now probably not take the Thunderbirds lightly, and after taking the first meeting by nearly 40 points, there is no reason why a motivated Bears’ team should not take this by double-digits.

Believe it or not, Southern Utah went a quasi-respectable 8-12 inside the Big Sky Conference last year, but the Thunderbirds lost three starters to graduation and the only retuning senior starter Jayson Cheesman is now coming off the bench due to averaging a mere 3.3 points per game this season, so this team is certainly lacking in talent.

If you are wondering how a team can go 2-26 and have just one win over a Division I school, consider that Southern Utah is ranked 349th out of 351 Division I teams in offensive efficiency while also ranking 319th in defensive efficiency! The Thunderbirds have a measly effective field goal percentage of 44.4 percent while generously allowing 52.7 percent to their opposition.

And as mentioned, we also expect a letdown after that shocking win over North Dakota, so expect an easy win of more than double-digits by Northern Colorado on Saturday.

[gameodds]14/260565/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Northern Colorado -10 (-102)