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 Tuesday.
In a matchup of two teams that opened their season with easy victories, the unranked underdogs may hold value Tuesday evening when those Toledo Rockets (1-0, 0-0 away) pay a visit to the 15th ranked VCU Rams (1-0, 0-0 home) at the Siegel Center in Richmond, VA at 6:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPNU.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Toledo as a big underdog for this contest with the current line at +12 with odds of -102.
Both Teams Won by Double-Digits
Both of these teams got off on the right foot with double-digit wins in their openers this year. VCU opened with an 85-69 win as an eight-point favorite vs. the Tennessee Volunteers in Annapolis, MD Friday, although it must be said that Tennessee is a team in disarray following the departure of Coach Cuonzo Martin after a Sweet Sixteen run in the NCAA Tournament back in March, a tournament in which VCU lost to Stephen F. Austin in the second round.
Toledo was also the winning NCAA Basketball pick in its opener, defeating Northern Arizona 71-58. The Rockets failed to cover the spread as 14½-point favorites, but it is not as is they were ever challenged in that 13-point victory and that was with preseason West Division MAC first teamer Julius Brown not having a typical game, scoring 10 points on just 3-of-11 shooting. Brown should rebound here after Nathan Boothe compensated with a career-high 19 points.
School Record 27 Wins Last Season
Toledo is a dangerous double-digit underdog here that went 27-7 last season, setting a school record for most wins in a season! Unfortunately the Rockets were upset by Western Michigan in the MAC Tournament Championship Game and had to settle for an NIT appearance where they lost in the opening round at Southern Miss. They may have been a bit despondent for that contest though and are looking to take the next step to the Big Dance this season.
Toledo is the preseason favorite to win the MAC and with good reason, as the Rockets return four starters from the 27-win team, with swingman Justin Drummond (14.2 points per game last season) and forward J.D. Weatherspoon (10.6 points, 6.6 rebounds) joining their all-conference point guard Brown and their center Boothe, who averaged 9.2 points and 4.6 rebounds while also tacking on 38 blocked shots last year.
That Toledo team finished 31st in the country in offensive efficiency according to the Pomeroy Ratings and this team should not vary too much from that with such a hefty portion of the lineup still intact. Also the Rockets were a sparkling 13th in the nation in offensive turnover percentage with Brown running the point, and having that adept point guard is crucial vs. the VCU pressure defense. And Brown now being a senior does not hurt matters vs. “Havoc.”
Won 20 Straight at Home
The Rams have won 20 straight games here at Siegel and its so-called Havoc defense has had a lot to do with it as the Rams have now led the country in both total steals and in defensive turnover percentage in each of the last three seasons! That defense is actually the primary reason that the offense has some respectable numbers because the VCU offense ranked only 244th in the land in effective field goal percentage last year, so a large portion of the offense comes in transition.
What that means is that the Rams can struggle on the rare occasions when they are not constantly turning teams over, and the loss to Stephen F. Austin in the NCAA Tournament was a perfect example as VCU uncharacteristically had just six steals in that contest and tasted defeat. Thus, if Brown and Toledo continue to play as disciplined as they did last season, they could easily hang close in this contest as Toledo is the much more offensively efficient team.
Rockets Like to Travel
Finally, Toledo is one squad that does not mind travelling as the Rockets begin their 2014-15 road schedule having gone 11-7 straight up in their last 18 road contests, and that does not include also going 3-1 on neutral courts last season.
Toledo may not improve on that recent straight up road mark here, but the 12-point cushion should very well enable the Rockets to get the cover as they pay a visit to VCU at Richmond on Tuesday.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Toledo +12 (-102)