Rhode Island the NCAA Basketball Pick to Ram Saint Louis

LT Profits Sports Group

Saturday, January 3, 2015 3:54 PM GMT

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Saturday.

 

One of the up and coming teams in the Atlantic 10 gets a chance to make an emphatic statement on the road in the conference opener Saturday when those Rhode Island Rams (8-3, 1-1 away) pay a visit to the Saint Louis Billikens (8-5, 6-3 home) at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, MO at 3:00 ET in a game televised nationally on NBC Sports Network.

The point spread at Bet365 has Rhode Island as a decided road favorite for this contest with the current line at -8 with odds of -110.


Goal to Join the NCAA Atlantic 10 Party
You may recall that six teams from the Atlantic 10 Conference made the NCAA Tournament last season, but Rhode Island was not one of them. Well, the Rams are doing their best to remedy that situation with their 8-3 start with all three losses coming vs. Pomeroy Top 100 teams in Kansas, Providence and Georgia Tech. They are facing no such foe here with the new-look Billikens currently ranked just 258th on Pomeroy.

That is a far cry from last season when Saint Louis was nationally ranked for much of the year thanks to a senior laden starting lineup in a year that included being the winning NCAA Basketball picks in 19 straight games at one point! Unfortunately the entire starting lineup from the 2013-14 season has now graduated, meaning Saint Louis is basically starting from scratch under Coach Jim Crews, now in his third full season since replacing the late Rick Majerus.


Up to 49th on Pomeroy Overall
Rhode Island has now won three straight games since the loss at Providence, and all three wins over Delaware State, Detroit and Brown have been decisive by an average of +24.3 points with the closest win being by 14 over Detroit in a game where the Rams dominated the second half after being down by two points at halftime. All three teams that URI has beaten during this streak are ranked higher than Saint Louis on Pomeroy.

Yes, we get that this is the conference opener for both teams and giving this many points on the road in conference play can be very dangerous, but we simply feel that the large talent disparity between these teams at the current time cannot be ignored.

Rhode Island is the real deal as this team can both shoot and defend very well. The Rams miss very few shots closer to the basket as they are 24th in the country in two-point shooting percentage at a nice 54.3 percent, keying a 46th ranking in effective field goal percentage. The only thing keep the Rhode Island offensive efficiency ranking down at 107th is a high turnover rate of 20.7 percent, but that gets offset here by Saint Louis being just as bad at 20.8 percent!

Meanwhile Rhode Island is 35th in defensive efficiency and 28th in effective field goal percentage allowed at 43.0 percent, and the Rams are excellent at creating turnovers defensively, ranking 37th at 23.0 percent vs. a national average of 20.0 percent. Add this all up and Rhode Island is ranked 49th overall on Pomeroy, making it the third highest ranked Atlantic 10 team behind only VCU and George Washington.


Major Transition for Billikens
On the other hand the Billikens are the lowest ranked team in the conference at 258 and while an 8-5 record may not seem so bad for such a young team with not a single senior as a significant contributor, that record is mostly due to scheduling as seven of the eight wins came over teams ranked 208th or worse on Pomeroy including one win over a Division II school, and the eighth win came over 151st ranked Vermont here at home by just three points.

The Billikens also show home losses to 306th ranked Texas A&M-Corpus Christie and 167th ranked South Dakota State, and outside of a 29-point loss to Wichita State, Rhode Island now represents the second highest ranked Pomeroy team Saint Louis has faced this season.

And this is a team that is struggling on both sides of the ball, so we do not see the Billikens generating much offensively vs. the excellent Rhode Island defense considering they rank 271st in the country in effective field goal percentage at 45.5 percent, nor do we expect them to slow down the Rams’ offense with a defense ranked 276th in effective field goal percentage allowed at 51.9 percent.


Revenge for Last Season
Finally, Rhode Island is now in prime position for revenge after what was then a good Saint Louis team invaded Kingston last season and nipped the Rams 59-58. Look for URI to now return the favor by a much bigger margin vs. a depleted Saint Louis team on the Billikens’ home floor.

Add this all up and we actually see a Rhode Island romp in the Atlantic 10 opener, even on the road in St. Louis on Saturday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Rhode Island -8 (-110)