NCAA Basketball Picks: Montana State -7½ over Sacramento State

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, January 2, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

Sacramento State is not a good road team and it does not figure to get many offensive rebounds, which could allow Montana State to win by double-digits in Big Sky play Thursday.

Expected dominance on its defensive glass vs. a poor road team could spell a double-digit win by the home club Thursday night when the Sacramento State Hornets (4-5, 1-4 away) pay a visit to those Montana State Bobcats (5-6, 3-1 home) at Worthington Arena in Bozeman, MT at 9:05 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Montana State as a decided home favorite for this contest with the current line at -7½ with odds of -106.

This is the Big Sky Conference opener for both of these teams. Neither team has done much during the non-conference portion of its schedule, but Montana State has good experience returning four seniors from a team that went a respectable 10-10 in Big Sky play last year. And, believe it or not, the Bobcats have been one of the very best defensive rebounding teams in the country so far this season.

Sacramento State is 4-5, but in all honesty the Hornets are have not even been as good as that modest record as two of their wins have come vs. Division II schools and the other two came vs. a UC Davis team currently ranked 318th on the Pomeroy Ratings and vs. 287th ranked UC Riverside by just a 69-67 score in their last game on Sunday.

Now, Montana State is by no means a great team, but at least the Bobcats have outscored their opponents by an average of +2.4 points this season despite the losing record. But that does not tell the whole story though as Montana State is incredulously second in the entire country in defensive rebounding percentage, grabbing their opponents’ misses 76.6 percent of the time compared to a national average of 68.2 percent!

Just that statistic alone could be enough for the Bobcats to win this game by double-digits at home vs. a bad road team, as these teams are similar (as in nearly equally bad) in just about every other area. Although neither team runs much, Montana State is slightly faster ranking 147th in tempo rating compared to 266th for Sacramento State, and it would probably behoove the Bobcats to force the tempo a bit here given the Hornets’ lack of second-chance shots.

Sacramento State actually ended its early non-conference schedule with a very winnable game, and the fact that they only beat UC Riverside by two points at home is a bad omen as it begins Big Sky play on a four-game road trip. The Hornets were just 1-9 on the road inside the conference last season and they won only one of their last seven trips to Bozeman including a 16-point beatdown last season, which is significant considering the Bobcats’ four returning seniors.

But perhaps most importantly, the Hornets are ranked 332nd in the country in offensive rebounding percentage at 24.1 percent, so we simply do not see how they will score much here with hardly any second chances. After all, Sacramento is ranked a dismal 330th in the land in effective field goal percentage at a mere 43.4 percent.

Thus, expect a quite comfortable Montana State victory on Thursday.

[gameodds]14/253601/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Montana State -7½ (-106)