NCAA Basketball Pick: Tournament Play of the Day Sunday

LT Profits Sports Group

Sunday, March 16, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

Sunday, Mar. 16, 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 Sunday.

There could be an overlay in the Big Ten Conference Tournament Championship Game on Sunday when the third seeded Michigan State Spartans (25-8, 13-4 away/neutral), turn up as favorites vs. the top seeded Michigan Wolverines (25-7, 12-5 away/neutral) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN at 3:30 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS.

The point spread at Bet365 has Michigan as a modest underdog for this contest with the current line at +3 with odds of -110.

Now we can see Michigan State being a tiny favorite here of, say, -1 or -1½, as the Spartans are finally fully healthy which they have not been for much of the season and they were very impressive while beating Wisconsin 83-75 yesterday in a game that was not really as close as that final score. However, being favored by three points on a neutral court over the regular season Big Ten Champions does seem like a tad much.

The Wolverines raced out to a big lead vs. Ohio State yesterday but relinquished it in the second half and trailed 68-65 with a touch over four minutes remaining, but the Buckeyes then managed just one free throw the rest of the game and Michigan was able to come away with the 72-69 triumph to reach this championship game.

Perhaps most importantly, the Wolverines swept both regular season meetings vs. the Spartans, and while the first win on the road at East Lansing was admittedly vs. a depleted Michigan State team, the Spartans had finally gotten all of their players back for the rematch in Ann Arbor and the Wolverines used a dominant second half to pull away to a 79-70 victory, as Michigan shot 50.0 percent from the field overall including going 8-for-19, 42.1 percent on three-pointers.

Both of these teams shoot the ball extremely well, but two big keys in favor of Michigan here are that the Wolverines defend the three-pointer better and they hardly turn the ball over much at all while Michigan State is considerably looser with the basketball.

Michigan is sixth in the country in three-point shooting at 39.8 percent, and it is second in the conference that category at 40.5 percent during Big Ten play, and the Wolverines can take advantage if a Michigan State defense ranked 11th in the conference and 120th in the country in three-point defense.

Also the Wolverines are 13th nationally in offensive turnover percentage at 14.8 percent vs. a national average of 18.4 percent, and they are second in the conference in that category.

Now, Michigan State is certainly adept offensively also as it is 12th in the country in offensive efficiency and is right behind Michigan in three-point shooting, ranking seventh at a virtually identical 39.8 percent. It is the Spartans in fact that lead the Big Ten in three-point shooting during conference play. The difference though is that State is facing a Michigan defense that is third in the conference in three-point defense surrendering a measly 31.6 percent success rate.

Perhaps more importantly, Michigan State is ninth in the conference in offensive turnover percentage, so the Wolverines should have more chances to produce points in transition during this contest. Remember that Michigan is third in the country in offensive efficiency, so those lost possessions by Michigan State hurts more here than it would vs. a team that is not as good at converting turnovers into points.

Thus, take top seeded Michigan as an underdog in the Big Ten Championship on Sunday.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Michigan +3 (-110)

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