NCAA Basketball Pick on Portland Pilots to Get ATS Cover

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, February 5, 2015 3:50 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015 3:50 PM UTC

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Thursday.


The revenge seeking underdogs could hold value Thursday night in West Coast Conference play when those Portland Pilots (12-10, 3-5 away) pay a visit to the San Francisco Dons (9-14, 6-5 home) at War Memorial Gymnasium in San Francisco, CA at 9:00 ET in a game available on Comcast SportsNet - Bay Area.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Portland as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +4 with odds of -110.

Two Disappointments Inside WCC
These teams both considered second-tier teams in the WCC before this season behind the Big Three of Gonzaga, St. Mary’s and BYU, but both have been disappointments since conference play began. At least Portland is still two games over .500 thanks to a 9-3 non-conference mark, although the Pilots are only 3-7 inside the WCC. To be fair, four of those losses did come to the so-called Big Three teams in the conference though.

San Francisco has dropped to five games under .500 overall with its 3-8 conference slate as the Dons have been losing NCAA Basketball picks in four of their last five games. Yes, they too have four losses vs. the Big Three, but the home losses to the likes of Loyola Marymount and San Diego are more concerning.

Revenge and Three-Point Shooting Key
At least two of Portland’s three conference losses outside of the Big Three came on the road, but the lone exception was a home loss to these Dons 89-77 on January 10th as a five-point favorite. The Pilots have not forgotten that one and, more importantly, seem to have the firepower to be able to avenge that upset loss now playing on San Francisco’s home floor.

You see, the Pilots really had little problem shooting that game inside the arc, as they finished 27-for-54, 50.0 percent overall and 21-for-36 for a whopping 58.3 percent on two-point attempts. The problem was that Portland uncharacteristically went just 6-for-18, 33.3 percent from beyond the three-point arc.

A more typical performance from long range probably would have resulted in victory as the Pilots are ranked 34th in the country in three-point shooting at 38.5 percent. And that percentage has not suffered one bit on the road where Portland is at 38.6 percent from downtown. Meanwhile, San Francisco is just 247th nationally in three-point defense at 36.0 percent.

Poor Free Throw Shooters
The Dons actually won their WCC opener on the road at Pacific, but they are just 2-8 since then and have just one home win inside the conference. Sure that are 6-5 straight up at home for the season but three of those wins came in non-lined games including one vs. some sub-division team called Notre Dame de Namur. And they are only 3-5 ATS in their lined home games.

It is hard to trust the Dons as favorites, as besides their inferior three-point defense being a major concern here vs. a good perimeter shooting team, they are also a terrible free throw shooting team, which would make it hard to extend a late lead should they be fortunate enough to have one. In fact, San Francisco is 345th in the land out of 351 Division I teams in free throw shooting at a mere 60.6 percent.

Past Dons’ Dominance Means Nothing?
Now, we totally get that the San Francisco upset win in Portland this year makes the Dons 22-8-1 ATS in the last 31 head-to-head meetings. However, we feel that streak goes back too far to be very meaningful, especially in college basketball with its big personnel turnover from year to year. Looking at more recent patterns, San Francisco is 2-5 ATS in its last seven home games and 3-7 ATS its last 10 games overall, while Portland is 5-1-1 ATS its last seven road games.

Look for the more recent trends to hold and for Portland to have a more “normal” three-point performance than the first meeting as it gets some revenge at San Francisco on Thursday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Portland +4 (-110)

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