NCAA Basketball Picks: Rhode Island +7 over Saint Louis

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

The points seems worth taking in what could be a fairly low scoring game when Rhode Island plays host to Saint Louis in the Atlantic 10 opener for both teams Tuesday.

Defense could very well keep the home underdog in the game at the very least Tuesday in early Atlantic 10 play when the hot Saint Louis Billikens (13-2, 4-0 away) pay a visit to those Rhode Island Rams (9-6, 6-2 home) at the Ryan Center in Kingston, RI at 7:00 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Rhode Island as a decided home underdog for this contest with the current line at +7 with odds of -106.

While we have great respect for an underrated Saint Louis program that is 13-2 while losing only to a couple of Top 10 teams by a combined 11 points, we feel that the Billikens’ mediocre shooting vs. a decent defense makes them rather dicey propositions giving this many points on the road in the Atlantic 10 Conference opener for both of these teams.

Rhode Island posted a winning 9-6 mark in non-conference play and enters this Atlantic 10 opener off of back-to-back road wins vs. LSU and Brown. The Rams’ winning record has been keyed by defense as URI is ranked a respectable 96th in the country in defensive efficiency.

Saint Louis is coming off of a 28-7 season that included a win in the NCAA Tournament over New Mexico State before losing to the Oregon Ducks, and the Billikens have benefitted from that experience this year as their only two losses have come to a Wisconsin 63-57 on a neutral floor and to Wichita State 70-65 at home. In case you didn’t notice, those two close losses came to two teams both currently in the top six in the AP Poll with identically perfect 15-0 records.

The Billikens have been great defensively where they rank fourth in efficiency, 13th in effective field goal percentage allowed and 11th in defensive turnover percentage while limiting their Division I opponents to 40.0 percent shooting.

However, Saint Louis is just 125th in offensive efficiency and 179th in effective field goal percentage offensively, and while Rhode Island is not in the Billikens’ class defensively, the Rams are solid enough on that end to contain the Billikens and take this game down to the wire at home.

Rhode Island has progressed nicely in its second season under former Wagner coach Dan Hurley, as the Rams’ nine wins this season are already more wins than they had in Hurley’s first year at Kingston last season when they finished 8-21. The biggest improvement has been on the defensive end after the Rams were 164th in efficiency and 179th in effective field goal percentage allowed last year.

The Rams are holding the opposition to 44.2 percent shooting overall this year including a mere 29.6 percent from beyond the three-point arc, and those percentages drop to 41.8 percent overall and 26.2 percent on three-pointers here at home, where they are 6-2 while losing to a couple of good squads in Southern Miss and Providence.

Points should be precious this game in an expected low scoring affair, so grab Rhode Island as a home underdog on Tuesday.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Rhode Island +7 (-106)

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