Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:00 AM EST odds are subject to change.
Northern Arizona +10 over Utah Valley
UCCU Center - Orem, UT
4:00 PM EST. There are 363 Division I teams and the oddsmakers cannot be on top of them all. We can find great value in second and third tiered conferences/teams and we’re going to suggest here that not only should the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona come in under this price, they can win outright. Don’t be afraid to play the Lumberjacks at +425 straight up in a small parlay or two.
It has been seven seasons since the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks last had a winning record in the Big Sky Conference. The program has finished 10th or worse in five of those seasons, and has been ranked better than 300th in KenPom’s Adjusted Efficiency Margin just once. Last year, the Lumberjacks finished the season in a tie for last place in the conference, fueled largely by inconsistent shooting, poor defense and multiple COVID halts. All of that has the Lumberjacks stock low and provides us with this great opportunity.
We’re not in the least bit worried about last year. The ‘Jacks didn’t have a good team record-wise last year, but they had a good team. There was nothing in the locker room that was bad. The guys who came back are bought in. With the transfers we have coming in, we are in really good shape,” said HC Shane Burcar. With all five starters, three experienced transfers, and a deep freshman class forming this year’s roster, Northern Arizona has the roster stability to be competitive in the Big Sky and to be one of the most undervalued mid-major teams in the country.
We also love that the Lumberjacks are 0-2. However, they played Michigan State (ranked 27th) and Arizona State (ranked 70th) and didn’t look out of place in either. They lost by 16 to Arizona St and 18 to Sparty but outscored Arizona St in the second half by nine (47-36) and hung with Michigan State for a good portion of that game. After playing that pair, this game should appear in slow motion for the ‘Jacks. Northern Arizona has a roster that the market is not aware of. With the incoming defensive guards, starting lineup continuity and dedication to disciplined offense, there should be a huge improvement over last year’s misleading weak record.
Utah Valley is 1-1 after defeating West Colorado (Division II team) and losing to Utah St by 17. The Wolverines of Utah Valley are not accustomed to being priced in this range. The biggest price they were all of last year was -5½ points twice, once at home against UT Rio Grande Valley and at home against Idaho. Utah Valley failed to cash both times, even losing outright to UTRGV.
Utah Valley finished dead last in all of college basketball last season in turnover margin at minus-4.3. This year’s squad projects to be far more guard-oriented but there is even more pressure on the ball handlers to avoid the same mistakes that cost UVU in ‘21-22. The Wolverines ranked 348th nationally in offensive turnover rate, giving up the rock on an alarming 22.1 percent of its possessions. Even if they improve, we’re not convinced for a second that Utah Valley is the superior squad here and we’re absolutely not convinced that they should be spotting double digits to anyone. We’re calling the upset win so let’s bet it that way too.
Officially, give us Northern Arizona +425 for 0.5 units and 1.60 units on Northern Arizona @ +10
Northern Arizona +10 -108 (Risking 2.16 units - To Win: 2.00)