UL Lafayette is the NCAA Basketball Pick at South Alabama

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, January 29, 2015 3:28 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 Thursday.

 

Look for the reigning Sun Belt Conference Champions to flex some muscles Thursday night when those UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (11-9, 2-6 away) pay a visit to the South Alabama Jaguars (6-14, 4-5 home) at the Mitchell Center in Mobile, AL at 8:05 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has UL Lafayette as a moderate road favorite for this contest with the current line at -5 with odds of -106.


Defending Sun Belt Champs
The Ragin’ Cajuns won the conference last season by beating the regular season champions from Georgia State in overtime in the Sun Belt Conference Championship Game and they then gave Creighton a battle in the NCAA Tournament before falling 76-66. UL Lafayette is just fifth in the conference standings so far this season though under Coach Bob Marlin at 5-4, but this game could be a nice chance to make up some ground.

South Alabama is 4-5 in conference play and it comes off of being the losing NCAA Basketball pick by a 72-55 score here at home on Sunday in a non-conference affair vs. surprising NJIT. That defeat dropped the Jaguars to 6-14 overall, but one of those wins was a stunner vs. this Louisiana team 89-82 about two weeks ago on the road in Lafayette as 13-point underdogs. That upset could work against them here though as the Ragin’ Cajuns will now not take them lightly.


Better Defense the Key
Now we get that Lafayette currently starts just one player that started against Creighton in the Big Dance last season, although that player is a good one in Shawn Long, who is still just a junior and very nearly averages a double-double while leading the team with his 17.1 points and 9.9 rebounds and also leading with his 54.6 percent shooting percentage and 1.8 blocks per game on defense.

Those blocks bring us to our next point though as while Long has a different supporting cast than he had as a sophomore last season, this team is actually playing better defense than that NCAA Tournament team. The Cajuns are 120th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, but they still grade out nicely above average at 98.8 points per 100 possessions allowed vs. a national average of 101.3 points.

ULL is also allowing an effective field goal percentage of 48.0 percent after being at an alarming 50.4 percent last year. And you can bet that the Cajuns have not forgotten that they allowed South Alabama to shoot 55.2 percent on 32-for-58 from the field in the upset loss back in Lafayette, so look for a tighter defensive effort here as the Cajuns at the very least perform closer to their season average.


More Second Chances Expected for ULL
Conversely, the Jaguars have been terrible defensively this season, as not only are they 317th in the country in points against at 73.3 per game when looking at their raw numbers, but they are also 331st out of 351 Division I teams in adjusted defensive efficiency, 206th in effective field goal percentage allowed and 331st in defensive turnover percentage at just 16.1 percent vs. a national average of 19.5 percent.

And besides having the inferior defense, the Jaguars also figure to get killed on the glass in this game on both ends of the court. That is because South Alabama is just 281st in defensive rebounding percentage, making them vulnerable to giving up second opportunities to a Lafayette team that is above average in offensive rebounding percentage at 33.0 percent vs. a national average of 31.2 percent.

The news is not any better for South Alabama on the offensive glass, as it is 187th in offensive rebounding percentage at 30.5 percent while the Ragin’ Cajuns are an excellent 43rd in defensive rebounding percentage.


Usually Take Care of Business vs. Lesser Teams
The earlier upset loss notwithstanding, UL Lafayette usually gets the job done vs. teams that it is expected to beat, going 15-7 ATS in its last 22 games vs. teams with losing records. And as mentioned previously, that earlier loss should only motivate the Cajuns more as they look for revenge, and there is really little doubt that they are the better team here when both teams give their maximum effort.

With that in mind, look for UL Lafayette to get that revenge in rather safe fashion over South Alabama in the Jaguars’ own building on Thursday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Louisiana Lafayette -5 (-106)