NCAA Basketball Pick: Troy Trojans +6½ over South Alabama

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, February 7, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

The Troy Trojans and the South Alabama Jaguars have similar numbers offensively except for turnovers, where Troy has been much better at protecting the ball. Take the points.

The underdog should have a huge advantage in the turnover department to help it cover a decent spread Thursday night when the Troy Trojans (10-13, 2-8 away) pay a visit to the South Alabama Jaguars (12-9, 6-4 home) at the Mitchell Center in Mobile, AL at 8:05 ET.

The point spread at 5 Dimes has Troy as a decided underdog for this contest with the current line at +6½ with odds of -105.

Troy has to be disappointed with being three games under .500 at this point of the season, especially after opening up  a brand new home arena this season, but the Trojans are very undersized with no starter standing taller than 6-foot-7, and they are not a good shooting team.

With that being said however, Troy’s shooting percentages are eerily similar to South Alabama’s, as in equally bad, but Troy has actually been one of the better teams in the country when it comes to not committing turnovers while South Alabama has been one of the worst. That positive turnover differential is certainly a desirable trait in an underdog.

Troy is also adept at slowing the pace of the game, ranking 336th in the nation with a tempo rating of 61.0 possessions per game, which is another fine trait in an underdog. Some not so fine traits are ranking 217th in offensive efficiency and 268th in effective field goal percentage, although at least those are offset by South Alabama having similar numbers.

Perhaps the biggest key to this whole contest though is that the Trojans rank an excellent 20th in the entire country in offensive turnover percentage at just 16.9 percent, which is decidedly below the national average of 20.4 percent. Troy committed only nine turnovers in a handy 71-52 victory over Louisiana Lafayette on Saturday, marking the Trojans’ third  win in the last four games to improve to 5-7 in Sun Belt Conference play.

Unfortunately that still leaved Troy sixth and last in the East Division, which is the stronger of the two Sun Belt divisions.

South Alabama is second in the East with a 9-4 conference mark,  trailing only conference kingpin Middle Tennessee State at 12-1. The Jaguars own that lofty standing despite ranking 231st in offensive efficiency and 264th in effective field goal percentage.

Worst of all, South Alabama is ranked 305th in the country in offensive turnover percentage at 23.2 percent, so the Jaguars have certainly lived a charmed life so far. Furthermore, it is not as if they have shown any improvement in conference play, as the Jags rank ninth in both offensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage and sixth in offensive turnover percentage during Sun Belt games.

Forget about the records of these teams as this game is a toss-up, so take the points with Troy on Thursday.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Troy +6½ (-105)

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