NCAA Basketball Pick on South Dakota State in Fargo

LT Profits Sports Group

Sunday, January 4, 2015 3:31 PM UTC

Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015 3:31 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 Sunday.


The underdog may have the edge in the Battle of the Dakotas Sunday in Summit League action when the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (9-6, 2-5 away) pay a visit to the North Dakota State Bison (9-5, 5-0 home) at Scheels Arena in Fargo, ND at 5:00 ET in a game available on ESPN3 and Midco Sports Network.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has South Dakota State as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +4½ with odds of -112.

Temporary Home for Bison
The Bison of North Dakota State are the defending Summit League Champions after going 26-9 last year overall, 12-2 in conference play and then winning the Summit League Tournament. However, they actually downgraded their home arena for the next two seasons currently playing at 6,000-seat Scheels Arena while a new arena is constructed after the closing of Bison Sports Arena, although that has not prevented the Bison from getting off to a 5-0 home start.

South Dakota State is playing its seventh straight game away from home and it fifth straight true road game on a trip that began with two games on a neutral court in a tournament in Utah. The trip even included back-to-back games vs. ranked teams at Utah and Northern Iowa before being the losing NCAA Basketball picks in the Summit opener at Denver on Friday.

That loss should prevent the Jackrabbits from looking ahead to finally returning home on Wednesday, as they want to avoid an 0-2 start in conference, and facing their biggest conference rival also lessens the chances of looking ahead.

Good Line Value?
The good thing about that long road trip is that it may actually be serving to give South Dakota State good line value here as an overcompensation, especially since North Dakota State may not have the same home court advantage as it has had in past seasons. The Jackrabbits also have revenge in mind after a 74-59 loss to the Bison at their former home in Bison Arena last season.

That was when the Bison were the conference kingpins though and the talent gap between the teams is much narrower this year. Yes the Jackrabbits graduated their two leading scorers from last season but they still lost less talent than the more depleted Bison and Cody Larson has stepped up like the Rabbits needed him to after he was the third option last season when he still shot a nice 52.0 percent from the field.

And Larson is actually the second leading scorer this season because Deondre Parks has made a seamless transition as a junior college transfer and George Marshall has been a revelation after transferring from Wisconsin, rather unexpectedly ranking third on the team with his 13.0 points. And remember that South Dakota State covered the spread on both of those recent tough road games vs. ranked teams at Utah and Northern Iowa to close out non-conference play.

Just Two Returning Starters
As for the Bison, not only did they earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament as Summit Champions last season but they also upset Oklahoma 80-75 in overtime before getting knocked out by San Diego State in the third round. However, North Dakota State lost three starters that combined for 42.2 points per game from that squad while the two starters that did return averaged only 13.8 points combined.

And that impact has been obvious as after ranking 29th in the country in offensive efficiency and 15th in effective field goal percentage last year at 54.5 percent, the Bison are all the way down to 175th in offensive efficiency and 255th in effective field goal percentage at 46.3 percent this year. Shooting guard Lawrence Alexander is doing his part averaging 17.8 points, but A.J. Jacobson is the only other player on the roster in double-digits and barely so averaging 10.7 points.

Yes the Bison have still managed to go 9-5, but eight of those nine wins were vs. teams ranked lower than the 162nd that South Dakota State is ranked on the Pomeroy Ratings with the lone exception being a nine-point home win over 145th ranked Akron.

Nice Head-to-Head Results vs. Better Bison Teams
Finally, despite North Dakota State being the decidedly better of these two teams in recent seasons, South Dakota State has still managed to go 5-2 ATS in the last seven head-to-head meetings with one of those ATS losses coming in Fargo Arena last year.

With the teams closer in talent now and with North Dakota State not enjoying as much of an advantage while playing in a temporary home, look for that ATS success for South Dakota State to continue for at least one more meeting on Sunday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: South Dakota State +4½ (-112)

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