NCAA Basketball Pick: Ohio Bobcats vs. Western Michigan Broncos

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

It is a big game in the MAC when the co-leaders of the East Division, the Ohio Bobcats, have a potentially tough road test vs. the Western Michigan Broncos on Wednesday.

The road team appears to have the advantage in a nice cross-divisional MAC matchup Wednesday night when those Ohio Bobcats (16-5, 6-2 away) pay a visit to the Western Michigan Broncos (12-8, 8-2 home) at University Arena in Kalamazoo, MI at 7:00 ET.

The point spread at Bet365 has Ohio as a scant road favorite for this contest with the current line at -1 with odds of -110.

Ohio is tied atop the MAC East Division with the Akron Zips at 6-2, but in reality the Bobcats are in second as they lost the first head-to-head meeting with the Zips at home in Athens, making every conference game from here on out a critical one. Remember that Ohio did not receive an invite to the NCAA Tournament last season at 24-10, so the Bobcats do not want to leave anything to chance this year with the MAC Championship being the first goal.

Western Michigan is in second place in the MAC West Division at 5-3 just one-half game behind 6-2 Toledo, and the Broncos have been tough here at home this season going 8-2, although one of those home losses did come inside the conference against Bowling Green. The Broncos did beat Toledo here though, showing what they are capable of on their best day, but they have lacked consistency though and thus are ranked just 178th overall on the Pomeroy Ratings.

Ohio on the other hand is ranked a very good 89th, although interestingly the Bobcats also lost to Bowling Green at home, a Bowling Green team ranked 204th on Pomeroy. That one aberration aside, the Bobcats are one of just two MAC teams in the Pomeroy Top 100 and seem like legitimate threats to return to the Big Dance for the first time since advancing to the Sweet 16 two seasons ago.

The Ohio defense can compete with a lot of teams as it is ranked 41st in defensive efficiency and 10th in effective field goal percentage allowed. More importantly the defense has been stiff from all spots on the floor, ranking 18th nationally in two-point defense and 23rd in three-point defense. Not surprisingly, the Bobcats lead the MAC in effective field goal percentage allowed during conference play at just 41.6 percent while ranking second in the conference in efficiency.

Granted Ohio has had some issues offensively ranking 182nd in efficiency overall and fifth inside the conference, but one thing that the Bobcats do well is hit shots from inside the arc as they are hitting 50.8 percent of their two-point shots over the entire season. As long as that continues, then the Ohio defense can do the rest.

Western Michigan actually has a similar profile as Ohio, as the Broncos grade out better defensively than offensively and the best aspect of their offense has been two-point shooting, where WMU has actually been better than Ohio over the entire year at 52.9 percent, a figure that rises to an excellent 54.7 percent inside the MAC.

However, that is offset by the bigger edge the Ohio defense has vs. the Western Michigan defense. That is not to say that the Broncos are bad defensively, as they are actually above average ranking 115th in efficiency and a good 74th in effective field goal percentage allowed. The breakdown of that eFG% is disturbing in regards to this game though as the Broncos are 24th in three-point defense but 130th in two-point defense.

Given that Ohio is most dangerous closer to the basket and does not rely on three-point shooting, look for the Bobcats to exploit that Western Michigan interior en route to a big road win.

[gameodds]14/256818/?r-1=43-238-92-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Ohio -1 (-110)

comment here