NCAA Basketball Picks: Grab VMI Over Samford In Southern Conference

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, January 21, 2016 5:11 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016 5:11 PM UTC

There could be nice value for our NCAA basketball picks in the Southern Conference Thursday night with VMI turning up as home underdogs while hosting Samford.  


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Free XXX Pick: VMI +6½
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline


We venture into the Southern Conference Thursday night as we see value in the home underdog when the Samford Bulldogs (11-8, 9-6 ATS), who have a losing 2-4 conference mark, pay a visit to those VMI Keydets (5-11, 1-8 ATS), who are winless in the conference until now, at Cameron Hall in Lexington, VA at 7:00 ET in a game available online on ESPN3.

The point spread at 5Dimes has VMI as a decided home underdog for this contest with the current line at +6½ on the NCAA Basketball odds board at odds of -105.


Team that is 0-5 in Conference Has Value?
Now, we could totally appreciate that this is not an obvious play as VMI is dead last on the Southern Conference standings while still winless at 0-5 in league play, not to mention the Keydets being one of the worst bets in the country so far at 1-8 ATS overall. That latter stat has a way of usually converging to the mean though and the dismal ATS mark could actually be serving to give VMI value in this spot here at home.

Besides, it is not as if Samford is some kind of juggernaut either as the Bulldogs had been losing NCAA Basketball picks in three straight games before notching just their second Southern win of the year over Western Carolina in their last game Saturday back home in Birmingham. That leaves Samford in eighth place in conference play at 2-4, only two spots above VMI.


Winless on Road inside Southern Conference
Samford may have a winning 11-8 record overall, but other than an upset win over disappointing Nebraska, the Bulldogs did not beat any other team currently ranked higher than 216th overall on the Pomeroy Ratings. Furthermore, both of the Samford conference wins have come at home as the school is 0-3 straight up in conference road games, most recently falling by 20 points at Furman 77-57 the last time it travelled last week.

The Bulldogs rely heavily on forcing turnovers, as that is the strongest aspect of their team ranking an excellent 12th in the entire country in defensive turnover percentage at 23.2 percent vs. a national average of 18.5 percent. However some context may be necessary there as they have faced a schedule ranked 231st in the country in SOS according to Pomeroy, so are they really playing great defense or have they been playing a lot of sloppy, turnover-prone teams?

The rest of the Samford defensive numbers are not as strong as it ranks only 158th nationally in defensive efficiency despite forcing all those turnovers, as well as a mere 247th in effective field goal percentage allowed at 51.3 percent. That make Samford a shaky road favorite as when the Bulldogs are not forcing turnovers, the offense is not helping much ranking 207th in offensive efficiency and 201st in effective field goal percentage.


Playing Better at Home
VMI may still be seeking its first conference win after five straight losses since the start of league play, but at least it is better than average in offensive turnover percentage at a reasonable 18.1 percent, so the Keydets may not get as frazzled by the Samford pressure as some other teams have.

Granted the Keydets are only averaging 66.6 points per game overall, 7.2 points less than what Samford averages (73.8) and VMI is also allowing nearly two more points per game (73.2 vs. 71.3). However, the home vs. away splits for each of these teams paints a different picture.

In fact, VMI actually has a positive scoring differential at home of +1.6 points, averaging 66.3 points but allowing only 64.7, while Samford has been outscored by an average of -5.8 points while going 4-6 in its true road games. The three Sothern Conference road losses for Samford have been by an average of -14.7 points, while the 0-5 conference mark for VMI is partly attributable to playing just one home game so far, a competitive 65-61 loss to Wofford.


Home Sweet Home
Finally, VMI is returning home from a fruitless three-game road trip here, but this is actually a situation the Keydets have had success in going 5-1 ATS in their last six home games following three or more road games. Also, Samford is only 2-5 ATS in its last seven conference games overall.

These teams do not appear to be separated by as much as their overall records would indicate and definitely by not as much to justify Samford being this much of a road favorite, so we recommend taking the points with VMI at home in Southern Conference play on Thursday.

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