NCAA Basketball Pick: Temple Owls +4 over Towson Tigers

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, November 14, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

The Temple Owls gave Indiana all that it can handle in the NCAA Tournament and they have averaged 77.5 points in two games this year. Take the points at Towson on Thursday.

In an interesting non-conference affair between two teams off to solid early starts this season, the underdogs could have value on Thursday night when those Temple Owls (1-1, 1-0 away) pay a visit to the Towson Tigers (2-0, 2-0 home) at SECU Arena in Towson, MD at 7:30 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Temple as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +4 with odds of -112.

Temple has played very well offensively thus far while not turning the ball over much, which has always been a trademark of teams coached by Fran Dunphy. The Owls opened up with a 78-73 road win at Penn before losing their home opener 81-77 to Kent State. Now, Kent is a good team this year but it shot an uncharacteristic 11-of-22 from beyond the three-point arc in that game, so we will cut Temple some slack for that anomaly.

Towson is a serious contender to win the CAA this season and it is off to a nice 2-0 start, but the Tigers have not yet been tested as those wins came over Navy and Morgan State in a couple of non-lined game. The Tigers are making a big jump in class here vs. a Temple team that is entering the AAC this year after being perennial contenders for the Atlantic 10 title for many seasons.

You may recall that Temple beat NC State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in March and the Owls had the Indiana Hoosiers on the ropes before finally bowing out 58-52 in the third round to finish at a nice 24-10 overall for the season. Granted the Owls return just two starters from that team, but the offense actually looks slightly better than last season in the early going.

One of the retuning starters Will Cummings leads the team with 17.5 points and 5.5 assists per game while the other one Ashley Lee is averaging 14.0 points. Also, a couple of players who saw big minutes off the bench last season have seamlessly made the transition to starting, as Dalton Pepper is right behind Cummings with his 17.0 points and Quenton DeCosey is adding 14.0 in Dunphy’s balanced, three-guard offense.

With those three ball-handlers on the floor simultaneously, Temple is only turning the ball over on 14.2 percent of its possessions through two games against a national average of 18.1 percent. That has allowed the Owls to be quite efficient as they are averaging 77.5 points despite playing at a rather slow pace, ranking 137th in the country early on with a tempo rating of 68.7 possessions per game.

Towson is coming off an 18-13 season where it went 13-5 in Colonial play, but that also means that the Tigers went just 5-8 when stepping out of the conference including a 72-61 loss to this Temple team in Philadelphia. In fact, just one of Towson’s 18 wins came vs. a team that finished in the top 100 in the final Pomeroy Ratings, and that was over 94th ranked Oregon State by one point in overtime.

The Tigers have not exactly played an ambitious schedule while winning their first two games this year either, but what is most disconcerting is that Towson ranks only 296th in defensive turnover percentage in the early going at 13.3 percent despite facing such a weak slate, which could allow the efficient Temple offense that usually has three guards on the floor to virtually run its offense however it pleases.

That could be the biggest key to this entire contest, so take the points with Temple on Thursday.

[gameodds]14/249436/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Temple +4 (-112)