NCAA Basketball Pick: Tournament Play of the Day Friday

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, March 21, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

Friday, Mar. 21, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

Every day this NCAA post-season, LT Profits Sports seeks one single tournament play that has the best chance of cashing. Here is their Tournament Play of the Day Friday.

There could be an inflated total in the very last scheduled NCAA Tournament game of the night on Friday when the 13th seeded Tulsa Golden Hurricane (21-12, 10-9 away/neutral) take on the fourth seeded UCLA Bruins (26-8, 10-6 away/neutral) in the South Region from Viejas Arena in San Diego, CA at 9:57 ET in a game televised nationally on truTV.

The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 147½ for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -108.

Before moving on to the specifics on the court for this game, it is rather interesting that both of these teams are coached by former players that won the NCAA Basketball Championship in the late 1980s! First, UCLA Coach Steve Alford won the title with Indiana in 1987 then Tulsa Coach Danny Manning won it with his Cinderella Kansas team the following season in 1988.

But back to the here and now, UCLA had been in and out of the national rankings all season, but the Bruins are peaking at the perfect time as they won the Pac-12 Conference Tournament by upsetting the regular season champions the Arizona Wildcats, who oh by the way are the top seeds in the West Region.

However, Tulsa may be even hotter as the Golden Hurricane won their last eight regular season games and then made it 11 straight wins blowing through the Conference USA Tournament, culminating with a 69-60 win over Louisiana Tech in the Conference USA Championship Game. Can they be another “Danny and the Miracles” run for Manning like in 1988?

Well, that seems unlikely but one thing that Tulsa does do is play excellent defense. The Hurricane are 30th in the country in defensive efficiency while allowing an effective field goal percentage of 46.3 percent, keyed by ranking an outstanding 14th in two-point defense at a tiny 42.9 percent. Tulsa is also good at creating turnovers, ranking 47th in defensive turnover percentage at 20.4 percent compared to a national average of 18.3 percent.

The problem for Tulsa is scoring points, as the 11-game winning streak has been fueled almost exclusively by that stiff defense. The Golden Hurricane are just 159th in offensive efficiency and 181st in effective field goal percentage at 49.3 percent, and to make matters worse they do not get many second chances, ranking 223rd in offensive rebounding percentage. As you’d expect, that combination of great defense and shaky offense has the ‘under’ at 20-10 in lined Tulsa games!

Now, UCLA is ranked 10th in the country with its 81.8 points per game, as well as 13th in offensive efficiency and 18th in effective field goal percentage. However, besides Arizona, a case can be made that the Tulsa defense is better than any other defense in the Pac-12, so the Bruins may have difficulty matching those lofty heights.

At the very least the Bruins will need to make a high percentage of their three-point attempts to run up the score, not only because of Tulsa’s excellent two-point defense but also because UCLA, like Tulsa, is also a poor offensive rebounding team ranking just barely ahead of the Golden Hurricane at 219th in that category.

Granted the Bruins just might do that given that they are ranked 19th in the country in three-point shooting at 39.1 percent, but given the offensive woes of Tulsa and this total being set toward the upper 140s, we simply do not feel that UCLA will score quite enough points to push this game ‘over’ by relying just on three-point shooting alone.

Therefore, go ‘under’ the total in the final scheduled game of the round of 64 of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Tulsa, UCLA ‘under’ 147½ (-108)

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