NCAA Basketball Pick: Tournament Play of the Day Monday

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, March 24, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

Monday, Mar. 24, 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 Monday.

We venture over to the CBI Tournament Monday night in our pursuit of what we feel is good value when the underdog Princeton Tigers (21-8, 9-5 away) pay a visit to the Fresno State Bulldogs (18-16, 11-5 home) at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, CA at 10:00 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Princeton as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +3 with odds of -101.

Besides having the better record by a fairly wide margin, Princeton is also the higher ranked team here at 95th overall on the Pomeroy Ratings compared to 114th for Fresno State. This line is more of an indictment of the Ivy League, but that did not stop Harvard from beating Cincinnati and throwing a scare into Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament!

Princeton advanced to this point by winning on the road at Tulane on Wednesday, making it six straight wins for the Tigers since losing to that great Harvard team, while Fresno State, which finished just one game over .500 overall during the regular season and 9-9 inside the Mountain West Conference, also advanced with a road win at UTEP.

The Tigers went 12-2 vs. non-conference opponents during the regular season with both losses coming to teams ranked slightly higher than the Bulldogs in Butler (103rd) and Portland (112th), and their biggest non-conference win was on the road at Penn State, so you cannot overlook Princeton as just another Ivy League team as the 21-8 record is not a fluke.

Princeton is a good shooting team and a great defensive rebounding team, and they can use both of those strengths to pull the upset here. The Tigers are 32nd in the country in effective field goal percentage at a nice 53.4 percent, and they can take advantage of a Fresno State defense that is below average in effective field goal percentage allowed, ranking 171st at 49.7 percent.

But the biggest advantage that Princeton has is that it is an amazing third in the entire country in defensive rebounding percentage, allowing opponents to grab their own missed shots just 25.7 percent of the time, and the Tigers should allow virtually no second chances to a Fresno State team that ranks a dreadful 316th in offensive rebounding percentage at 26.1 percent. As a point of reference, the national average is 31.4 percent.

Princeton also grades out considerably better on the defensive end, where it is allowing just 64.1 points per game while ranking 70th in the country in defensive efficiency, while Fresno State is allowing a heftier 70.9 points per game and is just 193rd in defensive efficiency. Just about the only advantages we see for Fresno State here are being home and not turning the ball over often, as the Bulldogs are sixth in the nation in offensive turnover percentage.

Still, we do not think that the turnover differential will make up for the expected lack of offensive rebounds by Fresno State, as Princeton also protects the ball well with an offensive turnover percentage of 17.0 percent vs. a national average of 18.3 percent. As for home court, it is not like Fresno has been dominant while going 11-5 here, winning by an average of only +3.9 points.

We simply feel that Princeton is the better team and the Tigers should be able to prove it as a road underdog in the CBI Tournament on Monday.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Princeton +3 (-101)

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