NCAA Basketball Pick: Tournament Play of the Day Tuesday

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 4:00 AM GMT

Tuesday, Mar. 11, 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 Tuesday.

In the Conference USA Tournament, look for one of the conference stalwarts to teach one of the league’s newcomers a lesson late Tuesday night when the fledging conference members, the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners (8-21, 1-12 away/neutral), take on the long-time conference members, the East Carolina Pirates (16-15, 6-0 away/neutral) at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, TX at 10:30 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has East Carolina as a moderate favorite for this contest with the current line at -5½ with positive odds of +101.

East Carolina is the defending CIT Champion as it defeated Weber State on the road in the CIT Championship Game last season, and the Pirates hoped to use that experience as a springboard to bigger things this year. Unfortunately things have not panned out that way so far as the Pirates finished just one game over .500 overall this season and they are only the 12th seed for this tournament with a 5-11 conference mark.

Texas-San Antonio made the transition to Conference USA this season after spending one year in the WAC last season and many years in the Southland Conference before that. The transition was not a smooth one as the Roadrunner went just 8-21 overall this year while facing a tougher schedule than they became accustomed to in previous seasons and they are the 15th seed for this tournament with a 4-12 conference record, beating out only 2-14 Rice.

On the one hand, it has been a somewhat disappointing season for East Carolina after winning the first post-season tournament of any kind in the history of its basketball program, but on the other hand regression was to be expected after losing four starters off of that team. That said, the Pirates were still able to salvage a winning season overall and their full body of work this year still looks to be better than that of UTSA.

That is especially true on offense where East Carolina has an effective field goal percentage of 51.0 percent overall, which ranks 113th in the country but is still above the national average of 49.6 percent. The effective field goal percentage got a boost from ranking in the top 100 nationally (93rd) and fifth in Conference USA in three-point shooting.

Granted the East Carolina defense was not much, ranking 279th in the land in defensive efficiency and 231st in effective field goal percentage allowed, but neither of these defenses grade out well and the UTSA defense in fact grades out worse, so the seemingly vast superiority of the East Carolina offense just may be enough to win this game handily.

That is because the Roadrunners are ranked a horrific 330th in defensive efficiency and 337th in effective field goal percentage allowed, so it is certainly not an accident that Texas-San Antonio is ranked 322nd in the country in points against at 76.7 per game! And the difference between these teams is that the UTSA offense is not good enough to compensate for the deficiencies of the defense, as the offense ranks 249th in efficiency.

Thus it should not be surprising that the Roadrunners went 2-12 in their last 14 games after surprisingly beginning their first Conference USA season at 2-0, and they lost to these Pirates 81-71 on February 8th.

Look for another safe victory for East Carolina over the Roadrunners here in the opening round of the Conference USA Tournament on Tuesday.

[gameodds]14/261167/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: East Carolina -5½ (+101)

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