NCAA Basketball Pick: UMKC +14 over Western Illinois

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, February 28, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

Western Illinois plays at the slowest pace of any team in the nation, which always makes the Leathernecks vulnerable as double-digit favorites like they are vs. UMKC on Thursday.

The home favorite may be overvalued in Summit League action on Thursday night when the UMKC Kangaroos (7-22, 3-9 away) pay a visit to the Western Illinois Leathernecks (19-7, 11-2 home) at Western Hall in Macomb, IL at 8:30 ET.

The point spread at Bookmaker Sportsbook has UMKC as a large underdog for this contest with the current line at +14 with odds of -110.

There is no doubt that Western Carolina is the better team here, as besides being 19-7 overall, the Leathernecks are in second place in the Summit with an 11-3 mark, just one-half game behind South Dakota State at 12-3. However, it is the style that the Leathernecks play that always make them vulnerable as double-digit favorites.

You see, Western Illinois plays at the slowest pace in the country, and we mean that literally is it ranks dead last out of 347 Division I teams in tempo rating at only 58.2 possessions per game, which is nearly eight full possessions below the national average of 66.1 possessions.

Thus, the fact that the Leathernecks rank second in the entire country in points against at 52.5 per game should be taken with a grain of salt, as because of the limited amount of possessions, Western Illinois is actually 51st in defensive efficiency, which is still quite commendable but not nearly what you would expect given the raw numbers.

The Leathernecks also rank a dismal 256th in offensive efficiency, so they have a high propensity for playing low scoring games, which again makes giving this many points with them dangerous regardless of the opponent. As you might expect, of their 11 conference wins this season, only one was by more than 15 points!

Those close wins include one vs. these Kangaroos on the road in Kansas City, where Western Illinois prevailed by only a 68-63 score for a winning margin nearly 10 points less than what is required to cover this thread.

Now we get that UMKC is not much with a 7-22 record including 4-10 in the conference, but the Kangaroos also play slow ranking 208th in the country in tempo rating and they have always given Western Illinois trouble as a result. In fact, UMKC had covered four straight head-to-head meetings prior to the narrow loss in the first meeting this year, and eight of the last nine meetings have been decided by single-digits.

Furthermore, the only double-digit win in the last nine matchups was actually by UMKC in an upset win last season, so take the big points with the Kangaroos on Thursday.

[gameodds]14/222418/93-238-19-92-1096/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: UMKC +14 (-110)