NCAA Basketball Picks: Sacramento State -2½ over UC Riverside

LT Profits Sports Group

Sunday, December 29, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Yes, it is a rather ugly matchup when the Sacramento State Hornets host UC Riverside, but an expected big turnover advantage for the Hornets should lead to a home cover.

Sometimes good value can be found in the worst matchups, and such may be the case on Sunday when the UC Riverside Highlanders (4-7, 1-4 away) pay a visit to the Sacramento State Hornets (3-5, 2-1 home) at Hornet Gym in Sacramento, CA at 5:05 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Sacramento State as a small home favorite for this contest with the current line at -2½ with odds of -106.

These are two of the worst shooting teams in the country with Sacramento State ranking 334th in the country in scoring and UC Riverside ranking 311th, but it should be noted that Sacramento has only played three home games and the Hornets did go 2-1 in those games.

It is also worth noting that while Sacramento State is only averaging 62.8 points overall, that average does rise to 70.3 points here at home. On the other hand, UC Riverside’s average dips from 65.0 points overall to a measly 59.0 points on the road.

The Hornets are coming off of a 14-15 season where they went 8-12 inside the Big Sky Conference, a stark improvement after going 10-18 and 5-11 two years ago, and they are probably not as bad as their 3-5 record this year, as besides playing only three home games, they have also had some impossible road games at UCLA and UTEP.

Now, Sacramento State is obviously not a powerhouse, but one thing the Hornets do very well is force turnovers, in fact ranking an impressive 45th in the country in defensive turnover percentage as 21.1 percent, well above the national average of 18.6 percent. Yes, that press has made the Hornets vulnerable when teams are able to break it, as they are a dismal 334th in effective field goal percentage allowed at 56.1 percent.

Fortunately for the Hornets here though, they are facing an offensively challenged team that figures to struggle against that pressure, thus leading to some easy Sacramento points in transition. In a game with two bad offenses, those easy transition points could very easily be the difference in this game.

Now Riverside is 4-7, but the Highlanders have not beaten anything and their only “good” loss was at San Diego State, as five of their other six losses were to teams currently ranked 185th or worse on the Pomeroy Ratings and the final loss was to 120th ranked Loyola Marymount. The Highlanders are ranked 336th in offensive efficiency, and a key component is ranking 305th in offensive turnover percentage at 21.5 percent.

That obviously plays into the strength of the Sacramento State team, and unlike the Hornets, the Highlanders do not force many turnovers defensively, ranking 133rd in that category.

Add this all up and even in a dismal matchup like this one, Sacramento State appears to offer value as a cheap home favorite.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Sacramento State -2½ (-106)

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