NCAA Basketball Pick: St. Joseph’s +3 over LSU

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, November 28, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

In a nice matchup during the night portion of the Old Spice Classic, the three-point shooting of the St. Joseph’s Hawks could key an upset of LSU on Thanksgiving Thursday.

A potential disparity in three-point shooting could key an upset on Thanksgiving night when the LSU Tigers (3-1, 0-1 away) take on those St. Joseph’s Hawks (2-1, 1-0 away) in the opening round of the at the Old Spice Classic from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, FL at 8:50 ET in a tournament televised nationally on ESPN2.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has St. Joseph’s as a small underdog for this contest with the current line at +3 with odds of -106.

The Hawks come off of an 18-14 season including a disappointing 8-8 in an Atlantic 10 Conference considered one of the better mid-majors, but this is a veteran team that returns three starters with one of the other current starters also getting major playing time last season, so look for St. Joseph’s to ascend in the conference this season, especially with Butler leaving for the Big East.

LSU has shown consistent improvement, at lest record-wise, over the past four years, going from winning 11 games each year during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons ton winning 18 games two years ago and 19 games last season, and that was with a young team that did not start a single senior. Thus, the strong 3-1 start this season with the only defeat being by two points at Massachusetts could have been expected.

St. Joseph’s began this season 2-0 before losing at home by four points to an excellent Creighton team, which is certainly not a bad loss. In fact, the Hawks have faced the considerably tougher schedule so far with an SOS ranked 169th on the Pomeroy Ratings compared to a 304th ranked SOS for LSU, which has beaten three non-lined opponents since the UMass loss.

And the Hawks have acquitted themselves well, especially offensively where they rank 47th on the early efficiency ratings and 35th in effective field goal percentage at 55.7 percent. That percentage has been fueled by great three-point shooting as St. Joseph’s is 23rd in the country while shooting a blistering 42.9 percent from beyond the arc. Therein lays the key to this contest, especially since LSU ranks only 236th in three-point defense!

The Tigers have had easy non-conference schedules for several years now, in fact ranking 332nd in non-conference SOS last season, so the improvement in their records over recent years could be artificial. Granted LSU went 9-9 inside the SEC last season, but remember that the conference was regarded the weakest of the majors last year and the Tigers were then blown out by the Florida Gators in the SEC Tournament.

While the Tigers deserve some credit for taking the underrated Minutemen down to the wire, that game was now more than two weeks ago and three blowout wins vs. Division II opponents since then may have LSU a bit overconfident right now. And despite that weak slate, the Tigers have been sloppy with the basketball ranking 268th in the land in offensive turnover percentage, and they are not a good perimeter shooting team shooting just 28.4 percent on three-point attempts.

Given that three-point disparity between these teams combined the schedules each team has faced, a case can be made that the wrong team may be favored here, so take the small spot with St. Joseph’s in Orlando on Thursday night.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: St. Joseph’s +3 (-106)