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 Wednesday.
While the second ranked team in the country will probably emerge victorious on its home court Wednesday night, covering the double-digit spread vs. a sharp-shooting team is an entirely different matter when the shooters of the UC Irvine Anteaters (2-0, 0-0 away) pay a visit to the number two Arizona Wildcats (2-0, 2-0 home) at the McKale Center in Tucson, AZ at 9:00 ET in a game available on the Pac-12 Network.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has UC Irvine as a huge underdog for this contest with the current line at +15 with odds of -106.
Both Teams Unbeaten While Not Facing Much
Arizona was picked by quite a few experts to win it all this season, but to do so the Wildcats will need young talent to step up after losing Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson from last year’s Elite Eight team to the NBA. The Cats are certainly off to a promising start, but beating the likes of Mount St, Mary’s by 23 points and CS Northridge by 18 may not mean much, particularly since the Wildcats failed to cover large spreads in either game.
UC Irvine has also been the winning NCAA Basketball pick in both of its games, although opening up with an 87-36 win over a Division II team in Chapman only amounted to a little more than a scrimmage. The encouraging part though was that the Anteaters followed that up with an easy win over a Division I foe, beating Pacific out of the West Coast Conference 68-50 while continuing to shoot the ball well. Irvine is also the preseason favorite to win the Big West.
Trouble with Free Throws
The Wildcats got the production they need from one of their young recruits when freshman Stanley Johnson led the way with 17 points in the 86-68 win over Northridge on Sunday. Also encouraging was Brandon Ashley scoring 13 points, as his season was cut short last year by a broken foot. Ashley is now shooting a blistering 81.3 percent (13-for-16) after two games, but do not expect that to last too much longer.
Now Arizona has certainly been very efficient on both ends of the floor in the early going, ranking sixth in the country in both offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency in the season’s infant stages according to the Pomeroy Ratings, but one area where the Wildcats have struggled is from the free throw line, which may not be all that surprising for a team that uses just one senior in T.J. McConnell in its regular rotation.
The Wildcats rank 290th in the nation in free throw percentage at a mere 56.7 percent, and that in itself should make anyone leery about giving this many points with this team at the current time, especially after that terrible foul shooting already prevented two covers.
Anteaters Shooting Well and Crashing Boards
The Anteaters certainly have the look of a team that is favored to win the Big West as they are shooting a scintillating 57.8 percent from the floor after two games including a blazing 41.9 percent from beyond the three-point arc! Not only that but UC Irvine is also 23rd in the country in offensive rebounding percentage at a ridiculous 42.9 percent and even the defense stiffened up vs. Pacific in the second half allowing a grand total of eight field goals after halftime.
On top of all that, there could also be a severe free throw disparity in this contest in favor of the underdog Anteaters, which is never a bad thing getting this many points. That is because while Arizona is shooting 56.7 percent from the charity stripe as previously mentioned, UC Irvine is ranked 10th in the country early on in foul shooting at 88.2 percent!
Wildcats Not ATS Friendly
Finally, with the Wildcats’ two non-covers to open this season they are now 1-6 ATS in their last seven games going back to last season, beginning with the Pac-12 Championship Game where they were upset outright by UCLA. They then failed to cover in NCAA Tournament wins over Weber State and San Diego State, covering only in a rout of Gonzaga before getting knocked out by Wisconsin in the Elite Eight.
Look for those ATS difficulties to continue for one more night as UC Irvine shoots well enough from both the field and the foul line to snare the cover as a double-digit underdog at Arizona on Wednesday.
NCAA Basketball Pick: UC Irvine +15 (-106)