Youngstown State the NCAA Basketball Pick to Get ATS Cover

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, February 25, 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 Wednesday.

 



We feel that there is some sneaky underdog value Wednesday night in the Horizon League when those Youngstown State Penguins (11-18, 3-10 away) pay a visit to the Oakland Golden Grizzlies (15-14, 11-3 home) at the Athletics Center O'Rena in Oakland, MI at 7:00 ET in a game available on ESPN3.

The point spread at Bet365 has Youngstown State as a double-digit road underdog for this contest with the current line at +10½ with odds of -110.


Big Difference in Horizon Standings
This is certainly not an obvious play when looking at the conference records of these two teams. Oakland is tied with Green Bay for third in the Horizon with a 10-4 conference mark, two games behind first place Valparaiso and one-half game behind second place Cleveland State. Even Oakland’s 15-14 overall record is deceptive as its 5-10 non-conference record came vs. a brutal schedule ranked 14th in non-conference SOS according to the Pomeroy Ratings.

Meanwhile Youngstown State is dead last in the Horizon with a 2-12 conference mark and the Penguins have been losing NCAA Basketball picks in five of their last six games, most recently losing at home to Detroit 83-70 on Saturday, failing to gain any momentum from their second conference win of the year vs. Wright State in the previous game.


Oakland Defense Makes Grizzlies Vulnerable
With that being said, the Golden Grizzlies like to play at a phrenetic pace and often treat defense as an afterthought, a mindset that makes it hard to cover double-digit spreads like this. Yes Oakland is an excellent 17-8-2 ATS this season, but that is mainly due to going 11-4-1 ATS as an underdog. The Grizzlies are 6-4-1 ATS as a favorite but five of those six covers came a single-digit favorites.

Things become much more risky when the Grizzlies are favored by double-digits because while they are 47th in the country in offensive efficiency and an identical 47th in effective field goal percentage at 52.7 percent, they are simultaneously 285th in defensive efficiency and 323rd in effective field goal percentage against at 53.7 percent, and their interior defense is particularly atrocious as they are 327th in two-point defense allowing a 53.1 percent success rate.

Oakland is actually getting slightly outscored over all of its games this season averaging 74.0 points per game and allowing 74.4 per contest. Now granted, a lot of that has to do with the aforementioned tough non-conference schedule and the Grizzlies do have a positive AMOV in Horizon games of +4.5 points per game, but even that average winning margin is less than half of this posted point spread.


Youngstown State Offense Good Enough
Youngstown State showed some nice promise last year before a late-season collapse, but unfortunately the results have not been there at all this season since the start of Horizon play, and this is after teasing again by going 9-6 during non-conference play. With that being said, the Penguins are still good enough offensively to take advantage of the lax Oakland defense, as evidenced by scoring 80 points the first time these teams met this year, albeit in a 96-80 loss.

Youngstown may not be putting up Oakland-type numbers overall but the Penguins still have a good effective field goal percentage of 50.8 percent and they scored 80 points in the first meeting despite atypically going just 5-for-19, 26.3 percent from beyond the three-point arc. The Penguins are a good 61st in the country in three-point shooting at 37.1 percent, so a more “normal” three-point performance tonight could easily leave them within single-digits.


Playing Close Game Lately
Despite the 2-12 straight up conference mark, Youngstown State enters this contest on a 5-2 ATS run, a current stretch that has included both of the Penguins’ conference wins following an 0-7 Horizon League start.

Look for Youngstown State to shoot the three-ball better than the first meeting and for the Penguins to cover this spread as double-digit underdogs when they visit Oakland on Wednesday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Youngstown State +10½ (-110)