NCAA Basketball Pick: San Jose State +5½ over Wisconsin-Milwaukee

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, November 15, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

Two young teams in the San Jose State Spartans and Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers meet in the NIU Invitational Friday, and the underdog Spartans look to have more upside.

Two young teams that probably will not win a ton of games meet on Friday, but the underdogs appear to have a bit more upside as of now when those San Jose State Spartans (0-1, 0-1 away) take on the Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers (1-1, 1-1 home) in the NIU Invitational from the NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb, IL at 6:30 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has San Jose State as a decided underdog for this contest with the current line at +5½ with odds of -108.

San Jose State opened up its season with a covering win at Santa Clara, albeit barely as the Spartans lost 89-77 as 12½ points underdogs. The bigger take away from that game though was the performance of the San Jose recruiting class, and the Spartans do appear to be taking a dip in class after facing that good Broncos’ team.

Wisconsin-Milwaukee has already been unpredictable, and it has only played two games! The Panthers opened up their season by losing to a poor Loyola Chicago team, and yet they followed that up by going into Davidson and upsetting the Wildcats on the road 81-77. It needs to be pointed out though that the Panthers were somehow allowed to outscore the Wildcats 32-11 from the foul line despite that game being in Davidson, and the defense continues to struggle.

San Jose State has actually now lost 15 straight games after losing its final 14 games last season following a 9-6 start, as the Spartans did not win a game after suspending senior leading scorer James Kinney for the season. They have now moved on from that and have a new head coach in Dave Wojcik to go along with two freshmen joining their three returning starters.

And the performances of those two starting freshmen, Jalen James and Rashad Muhammad, as well as that of another freshman off the bench in Isaac Thornton vs. Santa Clara gives San Jose State hope for the future.

Muhammad in particular finished as the team’s second leading scorer with 15 points, splitting two of the returning starters in Jaleel Williams and Chris Cunningham who combined for 32 points, and as a result the Spartans did not miss many shots from inside the three-point arc as they hit on 53.1 percent of their two-point attempts.

As for the Panthers, take away the inordinate amount of free throws in the upset of Davidson and that game really did not play out much differently than the opening loss to Loyola. The Panthers are coming off of a year where they went 8-24 while ranking dismally in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and early indications are that they have not improved much despite the upset.

Yes it has only been two games, but Milwaukee is currently 221st in offensive efficiency and 213th in defensive efficiency. The Panthers have been very sloppy with the basketball offensively turning it over on a whopping 22.2 percent of their possessions compared to a national average of 18.1 percent, and teams are getting basically whatever they want vs. the Milwaukee defense with the Panthers yielding a 53.1 percent effective field goal percentage.

Thus, look for San Jose State to continue to shoot well on the interior with the Spartans’ freshmen adding nice energy, hitting enough shots to cover this spread and quite possibly spring an upset.

[gameodds]14/249499/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: San Jose State +5½ (-108)

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