San Francisco Dons to get the NCAA Basketball Odds Cover

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, January 8, 2015 4:26 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015 4:26 PM UTC

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 Thursday.


One of the best teams in the country is in action Thursday night, and while winning on the court should not be in doubt, covering the enormous point spread certainly should be when the San Francisco Dons (7-9, 1-3 away) pay a visit to those sixth ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs (14-1, 6-0 home) at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, WA at 9:00 ET in a game available on ROOT.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has San Francisco as a humongous road underdog for this contest with the current line at +21 with odds of -110.

Zags Deserving of Their Ranking
Before we go on, let us preface this selection by saying that Gonzaga is totally deserving of its lofty ranking this year as it faced an excellent non-conference schedule and has an overall SOS ranked 19th in the country according to the Pomeroy Ratings, and yet the Bulldogs only tasted defeat once in overtime at a difficult venue in Arizona! Understandably Gonzaga has started West Coast Conference play at 3-0 with all three wins coming on the road.

San Francisco was considered one of the best second-tier teams in the WCC prior to the season behind the Big Three of Gonzaga, BYU and St. Mary’s, but after beginning the year 3-0, the Dons are a disappointing 4-9 since then and they were the losing NCAA Basketball picks in their last three conference games since winning their WCC opener vs. Pacific.

Unique Matchup Problem for Bulldogs
The Dons are one of the few teams in the WCC that can match Gonzaga in terms of size, but one unique matchup problem that the Bulldogs are not accustomed to guarding is a big man with excellent three-point range in the Dons’ leading scorer, 6-foor-9 center Mark Tollefsen. Granted Tollefsen was held without a three-pointer in a 99-68 blowout loss to that excellent BYU team Saturday, but we do not expect a replay of that tonight.

You see, Tollefsen is an uncanny 24-for-55, 43.6 percent from beyond the arc this season, and his overall field goal percentage of 55.7 percent leads the Dons. Yes, Gonzaga is 28th in the country in defensive efficiency and 33rd in effective field goal percentage allowed, but a big man that can pop out like this is one dynamic they are not used to defending.

And Tollefsen is not the only long-range bomber for San Francisco with guards Tim Derksen (48.1 percent) and Matt Glover (44.8 percent) also over 40 percent from three-point land, but the versatility of Tollefsen could put Gonzaga in a bit of a bind defensively when he is in the game.

Relatively Close Conference Wins
The Zags meanwhile passed their first WCC test with an 87-80 win at BYU that may very well go a long way toward winning the conference at season’s end should they end up tied with the Cougars, and they then beat a couple of bottom-half WCC teams in San Diego 60-48 and Portland 87-75. Yes all three conference games so far have been on the road, but the Zags have not exactly pummeled anyone yet like they did with regularity last season.

Something else that may prevent the Bulldogs from covering a spread north of 20 points is the fact that they do not necessarily play at a fast pace, ranking 164th in the nation in adjusted tempo rating at 65.9 possessions per game. Sure they make up for that by ranking seventh in the land in effective field goal percentage at a whopping 57.8 percent, but if the Dons hit their three-pointers at their normal clip, Gonzaga may not have enough possessions to cover such a huge spread.

Nice ATS Record Head-to-Head for Dons
Finally, despite the fact that Gonzaga has unquestionably been the better of these two squads for many years, the Dons usually rise to the occasion as they are 9-3 ATS in the last 12 head-to-head meetings! And most of those games had smaller spreads than this one.

It is good to know that San Francisco would still cover this game even if Gonzaga wins by 15 points or so, so look for the Dons to make enough three-pointers to keep this game reasonably competitive and cover the large number on Thursday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: San Francisco +21 (-110)

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