NCAA Basketball Pick: Tournament Play of the Day Wednesday

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, March 12, 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 Wednesday.

The Pac-12 Conference Tournament gets under way on Wednesday and rather easy scoring near the basket should propel the favorite to the cover when the ninth seeded Washington Huskies (17-14, 3-10 away/neutral) take on those eighth seeded Utah Utes (20-10, 2-8 away/neutral) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV at 3:00 ET in a game available on Pac-12 Network.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Utah as a moderate favorite for this contest with the current line at -5½ with odds of -111.

Utah is not your typical eight-seed as it was one of six Pac-12 teams to win at least 20 games this season while ranking fifth in the country in field goal percentage at 49.7 percent overall. The Utes averaged “only” 77.2 points despite that sizzling percentage because of a methodical offense that ranked 233rd in tempo rating, and that style obviously suits Utah fine based on the 20-10 record.

The ninth-seeded Washington Huskies were rather inconsistent while going three games over .500 overall and 9-9 inside the Pac-12, and while they nipped Utah by two points at home during the regular season, the Utes took the rematch in Salt Lake City by doing what they do best, which is hardly missing shots closer to the basket, and we see the same thing happening again today against the weak Huskies’ interior defense.

You see, the Utes ranked ninth in the entire country in two-point shooting at 55.2 percent and they also led the Pac-12 in that statistic during conference play, with only the stout Arizona defense holding Utah to under 50.0 percent from inside the three-point arc. They should face no such resistance here from Washington, as the Utes did whatever they wanted inside in the two regular season meetings.

In fact, Utah hits an unbelievable 25 of its 36 two-point attempts for 69.4 percent in the home win, and even in the two-point loss in Seattle, the Utes shot 21-of-38, 55.2 percent from two-point range. The only reason Washington was able to nip the Utes that game was because a Huskies’ team that ranked 10th in the Pac-12 in three-point shooting made five shots from beyond the arc while the Utes made only one.

Don’t expect that three-point disparity again on this neutral floor and Washington should again have its hands full inside trying to stop the Utah attack considering that the Huskies rank a dismal 326th in the country in two point defense generously surrendering a 53.3 percent success rate overall, a key reason why Washington was 298th in the country in points against at 74.9 per game and 330th in overall field goal percentage allowed at 47.5 percent.

This contest also matches up the best two-point offense in the Pac-12 with the worst two-point defense, as Washington is dead last in that category during conference play. That makes this a nightmarish matchup for the Washington defense, and it also hurts that the Huskies are only 305th nationally and eighth in the conference in defensive turnover percentage, as that means the unpressured Utah offense can be as methodical as usual while working for the best shot.

Add this all up and look for a handy Utah win in the opening game of the Pac-12 Conference Tournament on Wednesday.

[gameodds]14/261355/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Utah -5½ (-111)