NCAA Basketball Pick: Southern Illinois +14½ over Creighton

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

Creighton is on a 1-8-1 ATS skid as lax defense is catching up to perhaps the best shooting team in the country. Southern Illinois has won three of four and can slow the pace to a crawl.

Two teams heading in opposite directions square off in the Missouri Valley Conference on Tuesday night when the Southern Illinois Salukis (11-15, 3-10 away) pay a visit to the conference kingpins, the Creighton Bluejays (21-6, 13-2 home) at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, NE at 8:05 ET in a game available on ESPN3.

The point spread at 5 Dimes has Southern Illinois as a double-digit road underdog for this contest with the current line at +14½ with odds of -105.

Creighton has been nationally ranked for most of this season, but they dropped out of the polls with a three-game losing streak that they just snapped on Saturday with a narrow 71-68 escape at Evansville.

Sure the Bluejays just might be the best shooting team in the country, as they do indeed lead the land in effective field goal percentage while leading in three-point shooting at an amazing 42.9 percent and ranking fourth in two-point shooting at 56.1 percent, led by the nation’s second leading scorer and Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott, who as averaging 23.0 points on 55.6 percent shooting including an obscene 48.3 percent beyond the three-point arc.

But while offense is never a concern with Creighton, its defense is the reason it is on a six-game ATS losing streak and on a 1-8-1 ATS run. The Bluejays rank 101st in the country in defensive efficiency and 100th in effective field goal percentage against, and they apply virtually no pressure, ranking 324th in defensive turnover percentage.

Creighton is allowing 63.9 points per game on 41.3 percent shooting over the entire season, but they have allowed 69.2 points per contest on 45.7 percent shooting during the six-game ATS losing streak.

Granted, the Bluejays destroyed the Salukis by 30 points on the road for their only cover in the last 10 games, but Southern Illinois has turned things around nicely since then, winning three of their last four games. The Salukis rank 289th in the country with a tempo rating of 63.3 possessions per game, and they have been masterful at slowing the pace over the last four games.

If that continues, it would make it hard for Creighton to cover double-digits, and besides the road teams are 20-6 in the last 26 head-to-head meetings between these schools, so look for that pattern to continue for at least one more game on Tuesday.

[gameodds]14/221334/19-238-93-92-1096/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Southern Illinois +14½ (-105)