New Orleans Is The NCAA Basketball Pick In Southland Tournament

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 5:59 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 9, 2016 5:59 PM UTC

We see value in the Southland Tournament Wednesday night, where the New Orleans Privateers should prevail at close to a Pick’em price taking on the SE Louisiana Lions in Katy, TX.  


On a day where many major conferences begin their respective tournaments, we think the best value could be in the much smaller Southland Conference Tournament Wednesday evening where we feel the New Orleans Privateers (10-19, 0-0 ATS) have the edge as they take on the SE Louisiana Lions (11-20, 1-1 ATS) in the opening round from the Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy, TX at 6:00 ET in a game available on ESPN3.

The point spread at Heritage has New Orleans as a scant favorite for this contest with the current line at -1 on the NCAA Basketball odds board at odds of +100.


Entire Conference Chasing Stephen F. Austin
The Southland Conference had the only undefeated regular season champion in all of Division I this season in Stephen F. Austin at 18-0, as the Lumberjacks built on their NCAA Tournament experiences that saw them upset VCU two years ago and then give the Utah Utes of the Pac-12 a tough battle before succumbing 57-50 last year.

Neither of these teams are of the Lumberjacks’ ilk, but we do feel that both of them had anomalous finishes that are serving to give what we feel is a better New Orleans team value here. That is because the Privateers were the losing NCAA Basketball picks in four of their last five games while the Lions of SE Louisiana won four of their last five. And yet, New Orleans remains ranked nine spots higher overall on the Pomeroy Ratings.


Privateers Still Rising from the Ashes
There was once a time when New Orleans had more national recognition as a member of the Sun Belt Conference, but enrollment at the school declined considerably following Hurricane Katrina, so much so that it was announced that the Privateers were moving all the way down to the Division III level.

Later, the drop was amended to Division II, where the Privateers were set to begin play in 2012 before there was another last-minute announcement that New Orleans would remain in Division I and move to the Southland Conference in 2013. The Privateers were ineligible for post-season play however until last year, when they lost to Texas A&M-Corpus Christie in the second round of the Southland Tournament.

That brings us to this year where New Orleans is the eighth seed in this tournament after finishing 6-12 in conference play (10-19 overall) due to the aforementioned season ending slump. However, the Privateers look better on paper than they did on the court at the end of the year, and they may have righted the ship in time with the season-ending 97-86 win over Northwestern State to snap a four-game losing streak.

There is a reason that the eight seeds are small favorites over the fifth seeded Lions here, and two of those reasons are expected edges in second chances offensively and in turnovers forced defensively. That is because New Orleans is an excellent 33rd in the entire country on offensive rebounding percentage at 34.8 percent vs. a national average of 29.8 percent, and an even better 18th in defensive turnover percentage at 21.5 percent vs. a national average of 18.2 percent.


Can SE Louisiana Take the Pressure?
Now, SE Louisiana is certainly a good shooting team ranking a respectable 130th in the nation in effective field goal percentage at 50.9 percent. However, the Lions are also very turnover prone, ranking 340th out of 351 Division I teams in offensive turnover percentage at 21.9 percent. That makes for a nightmarish matchup here vs. the excellent New Orleans defensive pressure.

It also looks like there is not much that SE Louisiana can do about allowing many second chances to the excellent offensive rebounding team from New Orleans either, as the Lions are weak in ranking 310th nationally in defensive rebounding percentage.

Thus, the Privateers should be able to play to their strengths quite well here, while the Lions may need to hit an insane percentage of their shots to win this game with New Orleans expected to have so many more field goal attempts, due to both the abundance of offensive rebounds and more transition opportunities off of turnovers.


Taking Care of Losing Teams
Finally, with the Southland Conference not being a line league, these teams are not on the NCAA Basketball betting board very often, but nonetheless New Orleans is 5-1 ATS in its last six lined games overall and 6-2 ATS in its last eight games vs. teams with losing records, including going 4-1 ATS its last five games vs. teams with a winning percentage below .400.

We expect those patterns to prevail here with New Orleans coming out on top as tiny chalk over SE Louisiana in the Southland Conference Tournament on Wednesday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: New Orleans +1
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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