NCAA Basketball Pick: Toledo Rockets at Central Michigan Chippewas

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 4, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

The Toledo Rockets can clinch the MAC West Division title by winning their last two games, beginning with a road visit to the Central Michigan Chippewas Tuesday.

The visiting team has a chance to clinch the regular season MAC West Division title by winning its last two games, but it may be in for a dog fight Tuesday night when those Toledo Rockets (24-5, 8-5 away) pay a visit to the Central Michigan Chippewas (10-18, 8-6 home) at McGuirk Arena in Mount Pleasant, MI at 7:00 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Central Michigan as a decided home underdog for this contest with the current line at +7½ with odds of -108.

Toledo is certainly having an excellent season at 24-5, but given that the Rockets play in the MAC and that their best non-conference win was probably only vs. Boston College, it seems unlikely that they will receive an at-large bid if they do not win the MAC Tournament, so that is their goal for now. And they can clinch the MAC West Division and potentially grab the one-seed for the MAC Tournament by winning their last two games starting tonight.

Central Michigan is only fifth in the West with a 3-13 conference mark, but the Chippewas actually have a winning 8-6 record at home including winning all three of their conference games in Mount Pleasant, and they come off of a three-point road loss at Ball State, so they are capable of making a game of this at a somewhat inflated spread at home.

Sure, Toledo has a winning 8-5 record on the road but that still accounts for all five of its losses, so the Rockets have hardly been dominant away from Toledo, where they have a perfect 14-0 record. Yes, one of those road losses came at Kansas out of conference following a 12-0 start to the season, but the Rockets’ four conference losses have all come to teams currently ranked 107th or worse on the Pomeroy Ratings with the worst loss being vs. Northern Illinois (210th).

Furthermore Toledo’s scoring vs. Division I opponents has been level with the opposition on the road, with the Rockets averaging 76.2 points but allowing 76.0, resulting in a 5-7 ATS mark away from home that could make them vulnerable giving this many points.

And then there is the scheduling spot as the Rockets come off of a huge overtime win at home vs. the Western Michigan team that they are now tied with atop the West, a win that has put the Rockets in the position of clinching the West if they win out, and they end the season Saturday with third place Eastern Michigan, making this sandwich game a potential ‘breather”.

Central Michigan may have just three conference wins, but those victories have all been recent coming in the last three home games! The most recent home win came vs. the same Northern Illinois team that beat Toledo in DeKalb last Wednesday.

Despite the difference in the records of these teams, the Chippewas can hang in this game and maybe even pull an upset by attacking the Toledo interior. You see, the Rockets are ranked just 259th in the country in defensive efficiency, and one of the big reasons for that is ranking 293rd in two-point defense allowing a generous 51.9 percent success rate. Well, Central Michigan is above average offensively in that area making 50.3 percent of its two-point shots.

Thus, look for the Chippewas to take this game right down to the wire in MAC action on Tuesday.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Central Michigan +7½ (-108)

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