NCAA Basketball Pick: Tournament Play of the Day Sunday

LT Profits Sports Group

Sunday, March 30, 2014 4:00 AM GMT

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 a bit of an overlay in the East Region final of the NCAA Tournament Sunday when the seventh seeded Connecticut Huskies (29-8, 15-5 away/neutral) take on the fourth seeded Michigan State Spartans (29-8, 17-4 away/neutral) at Madison Square Garden on New York, NY at 2:20 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Connecticut as a decided underdog for this contest with the current line at +5½ with odds of -102.

Michigan State appeared to be the “it” team entering this NCAA Tournament with many experts and novices alike labeling this four-seed as one of the favorites to win the championship, as the Spartans are now fully healthy after battling injuries all season long and have won six straight games with the first three victories coming while breezing through the Big Ten Tournament.

Connecticut was not as highly regarded entering this tournament and the Huskies were even less regarded when they should have lost in their first tournament game when St, Joseph’s choked away a seemingly safe lead at the end of regulation time due to some poor foul shooting, allowing Connecticut to steal the victory in overtime. To their credit, the Huskies have been very impressive in their last two victories however.

This would not be the first time that Connecticut made a deep NCAA run as a higher seed, although it would be the first Final Four appearance under Coach Kevin Ollie after reaching the Promised Land under Jim Calhoun previously. And let us not forget that this is a pseudo home game at Madison Square Garden, as it was obvious that many supporters made the short trip to New York when the Huskies seemingly had 90 percent of the crowd support Friday!

Inspired by what was basically a home crowd at a venue where the Huskies had great success many times in the past as former members of the Big East, Connecticut basically dominated from start to finish despite being a small underdog in that 81-76 win over Iowa State in the Sweet 16 that never felt as close as the final score indicated. The Huskies shot a blistering 52.0 percent overall in that contest including going 9-for-19, 47.4 percent from three-point land.

And that three-point shooting could at the very least allow the Huskies to take this game right down to the wire and at best pull an upset, as Connecticut is 13th in the country in three-point shooting at 39.4 percent while Michigan State is only 122nd in three-point defense at 33.5 percent.

There was a general impression that Michigan State punched its ticket to the Final Four with it hard-fought 61-59 win over Virginia Friday, as the consensus seems to be that this should be an easier game after knocking off the top seed in the East. We do not share that belief at all though, as the Connecticut offense is much better than the Virginia offense, particularly from beyond the three-point arc.

Yes, Virginia has one of the best defenses in the entire country and the Spartans had to overcome suffocating defense by those Cavaliers through much of the second half. However, Michigan State would have lost that game if Virginia had a semblance of an offense.

Connecticut may not be in Virginia’s league defensively, but the Huskies are still very good ranking 13th in the country in defensive efficiency and 15th in effective field goal percentage allowed. The Huskies are even in a virtual tie with Virginia at seventh in the country in two-point defense, allowing a mere 42.1 percent success rate.

Add to that this being an almost-home game for UConn and we do not feel that this game is a slam-dunk at all for Michigan State as many seem to believe, so take the points with Connecticut on Sunday.

[gameodds]14/262945/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Connecticut +5½ (-102)