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 Monday.
It oftentimes happens that the underdog has inherent value when two struggling offenses oppose each other, and we think such is the case when the Washington State Cougars (0-1, 0-1 away) pay a visit to the TCU Horned Frogs (1-0, 1-0 home) at the Wilkerson-Greines Athletic Center in Fort Worth, TX at 8:00 ET in a game available on MASN2.
The point spread at Bet365 has Washington State as a decided underdog for this contest with the current line at +5 with odds of -110.
Both Teams Last in Their Conference in Scoring
Both of these teams finished last in their respective conferences in scoring last season. Washington State finished last in the Pac-12 in both scoring (62.4 points) and shooting percentage (40.0%) in 2013-14, leading to the firing of old head coach Ken Bone and the hiring of Ernie Kent, who is back in the conference after formerly coaching the Oregon Ducks for 14 years. Kent now hopes to bring more of that running style to Pullman with him.
Meanwhile TCU also finished last in its conference, the Big 12, in both scoring (63.6 points) and shooting percentage (40.3%) last season, and it was also near the bottom of the conference in rebounding, in fact ranking 336th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage and dead last out of 351 Division I teams on defensive rebounding percentage. With that combination, the 9-22 overall NCAA Basketball pick record should not have come as a surprise.
What could have been shocking was the 0-18 record inside the Big 12, and yet Trent Johnson has returned this season as the head coach.
Cream Puff Opener for TCU
TCU opened last season 9-3 in non-conference play before that “imperfect” conference mark, followed by a first round exit at the hands of Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament. Granted the Frogs return four starters, but that may not mean much in this case given the lack of production last year, and furthermore TCU may not have much of a home court advantage this year playing at the small Wilkerson-Greines with Daniel-Meyer Coliseum under renovation.
The Frogs opened up this season with a 71-54 victory, but that was vs. the outclassed Prairie View A&M Panthers out of the SWAC, which ranked dead last as a whole among all Division I conferences last season according to the Pomeroy Ratings. For all of Washington State’s troubles, the Cougars are still a Pac-12 Conference team that represents a step up in class here for TCU, so this game should serve as a better gauge to see if there is any improvement.
Nice Defense vs. UTEP
Washington State also had a winning non-conference record of 7-5 last season before going 3-13 in Pac-12 play, but at least it made the coaching change and is trying to do something about it by picking up the pace after ranking 336th in tempo rating in Bone’s final year as head coach at 62.1 possessions per game.
The Cougars played a 73-posssession game in their season opener vs. a legitimate opponent in UTEP, although the final results were not the best in a 65-52 loss on the road. While the offense may need a few games to grasp Kent’s system, the news regarding the opener was not all bad as the defense held the Miners to just 22-for-63, 34.9 percent shooting from the floor. The result would have been much closer if not for 21 Wazzou turnovers.
However, TCU does not apply much defensive pressure, so some offensive improvement can be expected from the Cougars here. Also, if the Washington State defense plays as well as it did vs. UTEP, it could set the Cougars up for an outright upset here vs. a team that does not shoot the ball well.
Revenge for Home Loss Last Season
Finally, the Cougars have revenge in mind after TCU went on the road to Pullman last season and nipped Washington State 64-62 as a 14-point underdog while uncharacteristically shooting 54.5 percent from the field (24-for-44).
Do not expect a replay of that shooting this year, so Washington State should at the very least cover the point spread here with getting an avenging outright win at TCU far from impossible on Monday.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Washington State +5 (-110)