NCAA Basketball Pick: Portland Pilots vs. San Diego Toreros

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, February 20, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

The Portland Pilots could again be without leading scorer Kevin Bailey as they begin a season-ending four-game road trip against the San Diego Toreros on Thursday.

The visiting team could be missing its leading scorer for the third straight game Thursday night when those Portland Pilots (15-11, 3-5 away) pay a visit to the San Diego Toreros (14-14, 7-6 home) at Jenny Craig Pavilion in San Diego, CA at 9:00 ET in a game available on ROOT Sports.

The point spread at Bet365 has San Diego as a small home favorite for this contest with the current line at -2½ with odds of -110.

Portland is currently in fifth place in the West Coast Conference, although it is unlikely to move up in the standings as it trails the Big Three in the conference of Gonzaga, BYU and St. Mary’s, as well as fourth place San Francisco by two games with four games remaining, with all four or those Pilots’ games being on the road. At least Portland can take solace in the fact that it handed 25th ranked Gonzaga its only conference loss!

San Diego is eighth in the conference at 5-10, although it can still improve its seeding for the upcoming WCC Tournament as it trails seventh place Pacific by just one-half game and even sixth place Pepperdine is not out of reach with the Toreros trailing the Waves by two games and the final three San Diego games beginning with this one all being here at home.

Portland could be short-handed here as leading scorer Kevin Bailey could miss his third straight game with a calf injury, an injury that could have cost the Pilots an improbable sweep of Gonzaga as they lost the rematch in Spokane by just a 71-66 score in the game in which Bailey suffered the injury on February 5th, limiting him to just 22 minutes. He has not played since.

Granted the Pilots won the two full games Bailey missed but those two wins game at home vs. Loyola-Marymount, which is in last place in the conference at 3-12, and Pepperdine. This road assignment vs. a pesky San Diego team looks much tougher. Remember also that Portland lost to the Toreros at home 65-63 the first time these teams met this year. In fact, San Diego is now 4-1 straight up in the last five head-to-head meetings including 2-0 here at Jenny Craig.

San Diego put an end to a four-game losing streak and evened its record at 14-14 overall with a nice 70-55 win on the road at Pacific on Saturday, a win fueled by going 9-for-16, 56.2 percent behind the three-point line. While 56.2 percent may be an aberration, shooting well from beyond the arc is not for the Toreros and that could help key a home win tonight.

You see, San Diego is ranked 33rd in the entire country in three-point shooting at 38.4 percent and second in the WCC at an impressive 41.7 percent during conference games, and it is going up against a Portland team that is ranked only 263rd in the nation in three-point defense. Granted Portland has been even better ranking 14th nationally hitting 39.9 percent of its three-pointers, but San Diego has had the better perimeter defense of this teams.

The Toreros are holding opponents to 33.2 percent shooting beyond the arc, which is below the national average of 34.5 percent, so look for the three-point disparity in this game to help lead to a San Diego home win.

[gameodds]14/258653/?r-1=43-238-92-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: San Diego -2½ (-110)