NCAA Basketball Pick on Stanford Cardinal in NIT Semifinal

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 1:55 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 31, 2015 1:55 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 Tuesday.


The small favorite from the major conference could have the edge Tuesday night in one of the NIT semifinals when those Stanford Cardinal (22-13, 6-10 away/neutral) take on the Old Dominion Monarchs (27-7, 7-7 away/neutral) at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY at 9:25 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Stanford as a modest favorite for this contest with the current line at -2½ with odds of -108.

Teams Have Taken NIT Seriously
Both of these teams had chances to go to the NCAA Tournament, but to their credit they have played hard in this NIT to reach these semifinals when they just as easily could have mailed it in. Stanford was once 15-5 this season while playing in a major conference in the Pac-12, but they then ended the year going 4-8 their last 12 games culminating with an ugly 80-56 loss to Utah in the Pac-12 Tournament before regrouping once this tournament began.

Old Dominion meanwhile ended then regular season 24-6 overall and 13-5 inside Conference USA, and there was even some talk that the Monarchs would be alive for an at-large bid provided they made a deep run the Conference-USA Tournament. Unfortunate, they were the upset losing NCAA Basketball picks to Middle Tennessee State in their first conference tournament game and out went their NCAA Tournament hopes.

Class Edge Should Allow Cardinal to Advance
With all of that being said, Stanford appears to have a sizable class edge here, and that in itself might be enough to get the Cardinal through to the finals. Besides being the major conference team among these schools and thus facing a schedule ranked 48th in SOS to this point, the Cardinal beat three teams ranked in the top 100 on the Pomeroy Ratings in the first three rounds including a fellow major school when beating Vanderbilt 78-75 last Tuesday.

Stanford is still ranked 45th on the Pomeroy Ratings at this very moment and remember that this team returned three seniors from the squad that advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last season, and that experience has benefitted the Cardinals in this NIT. And that is not to mention the height advantage the Cardinal enjoy here as they are 21st in the country in effective height according to Pomeroy at +3.4 while Old Dominion is 246th in that category at -1.1.

One key to this game will be who wins the turnover battle as the experienced Cardinal are 25th in the country in offensive turnover percentage at only 16.0 percent vs. a national average of 19.1 percent, while Old Dominion is a good 64th in defensive turnover percentage at 20.9 percent. However, the height of Stanford should allow it to pass over the Monarchs’ defense, not to mention having the experience to handle the Old Dominion pressure.

One Win over Major Conference School All Season
The Monarchs got here by beating Charleston Southern, Illinois State and Murray State, and while the latter two are actually in the Pomeroy Top 100, none of the three are from major conferences so Stanford probably represents a rise in class. And that is not to mention beating Murray State on a lucky 30-foot banked-in three-pointer at the buzzer last Wednesday.

Now Old Dominion does have a 27-7 record and it was actually a one-seed in its region of this NIT while Stanford was a two-seed in the Colorado State Bracket. However, the Monarchs are ranked quite a bit lower than Stanford on Pomeroy at 66th overall while facing a schedule ranked a mere 202nd in SOS, and they defeated just one team from a major conference all year.

Furthermore, we are not even sure how meaningful that major win is right now as it occurred vs. LSU way back in early November in the third game of the season.

Now, the Monarchs do grade out well defensively ranking 37th in defensive efficiency, but again the schedule must be brought into question and, as mentioned, Old Dominion does not figure to create as many turnovers as usual vs. the taller and post-season experienced Stanford team.

Stanford has Handled Non-Conference Foes
Finally Stanford has fared well when stepping outside of the Pac-12, as it has covered the spread in all three wins in this tournament to bring it to 6-1 ATS in its last seven non-conference games.

Look for that trend to continue here with Stanford getting the best of Old Dominion in New York City on Tuesday to reach the NIT Finals.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Stanford -2½ (-108)

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