To the uninitiated, this games looks like a complete no contest. Most people would have no idea the Oakland Golden Grizzlies are actually in Oakland, Michigan, let alone that they have a reasonable basketball team to put on the floor. These are exactly the type of games that have us over 60% against the spread this season; finding opportunities where the general public drive a line wider than the educated wagerers ever would. So is tonight’s contest fit that description? Let’s take a look inside the numbers and find out.
Arizona enters the game a disappointing 7-4, fresh off an 11-point loss at Gonzaga. At times the Wildcats have shown flashes of a team that could/should win the Pac 12, and at other times looked like a bubble team at best. They looked good in Madison Square Garden beating a down St. John’s team, and they looked excellent on their second trip to NYC, losing in overtime to a very good Florida Gators team. Conversely, they looked pitiful this weekend in Spokane, and not much better in a loss to Mississippi State and an ugly 53-39 win over Northern Arizona. They have a certain recruiting advantage of Oakland, but position for position, they are not leaps and bounds better like one would expect.
Oakland has been impressive this year en route to their 8-4 record that includes a good 82-80 win at Valpo and at home in a win against Tennessee. Their losses are all respectable; Arkansas, Alabama, Michigan and by 2 at Ohio. This is also a team that is used to being on a big stage. They have challenged themselves for the second year in a row out of conference, and return three starters from last year’s NCAA Tournament team. Granted, they lost the best player in school history, Keith Benson to the NBA (1st round pick), but they do still return a solid core, led by Reggie Hamilton (22ppg, 5.7 assists).
Arizona is certainly a slightly better team, but I’m not wild about laying 10 on them against anyone. Take a look at their eight wins; in only two of them have they covered a 10-point margin. Their last game against Clemson (17 pts) and the aforementioned horrible Northern Arizona game. They were unable to beat the following teams by more than ten points: St. John’s, Valparaiso, Ball State, Duquesne, and New Mexico State. That would seem to bode well for the Golden Grizzlies keeping things close enough to cover.
Give me Oakland and the ten points.