It’s Friday, which means a light slate of college hoops action. But, like many of you hardcore out there, the light Fridays have just fueled our knowledge and love for Horizon League hoops, right?? That’s what is on tap for tonight, so for today’s pick I’ll be checking in on my favorite mid-major player Keifer Sykes and the Green Bay Phoenix.
Before we get to the business at hand, a couple of teams notched HUGE tourney-resume wins last night, perhaps either saving their seasons or at the very least, keeping them on life support. Memphis notched a three-point home win over defending national champion UConn. The win keeps Memphis’s slim tourney hopes alive and kicking, while the loss is almost surely, finally, the nail in the UConn coffin. The loss dropped the Huskies to 14-11 and may afford them to win a different postseason title; the NIT.
And how about the Purdue Boilermakers?? I may have dropped the pick, but I will certainly tip my cap to the ‘Makers who moved to 10-4 in the Big Ten, alone in second place, and while most mock brackets still have them OUT, I can’t see how a team like Illinois is in ahead of them. Yes, the Gardner-Webb and North Florida losses (as well as Vanderbilt) still crush their RPI, but they are 10-4 in one of the nation’s best conferences…
Let’s see if we can pick up a win to start the weekend.
Today’s Free Pick:
Cleveland State Vikings at Green Bay Phoenix -6.5
The Phoenix dropped a tough one last week at Valparaiso to drop them a game back of the Crusaders in the Horizon standings. Tonight’s game is a big one, as both teams enter at 10-3 and tied for second. It is especially meaningful in the Horizon League where the regular season champ hosts the conference tournament in their home gym (unless they lose earlier, then the higher seed hosts). That’s a HUGE advantage in a league where only one team is likely dancing.
So this game tonight really matters.
Both teams are about the same ATS this season. GB is 13-11, Cleveland State is 12-12 ATS. Both teams enter having won seven of nine games and playing pretty good basketball. Cleveland State’s record is a lot worse overall, but since league play has commenced, they’ve looked like pretty similar teams. In fact, over their last five games, Cleveland State has been the far more efficient team. They are shooting over 51% from the floor and allowing just over 41% shooting from their opponents. That is compared to a 47%/43% split from Green Bay.
Kiefer Sykes will be the best player on the floor, but I’m not sure his team is as better as I thought two months ago. Cleveland State absolutely manhandled the Phoenix last month 76-62. Green Bay may very well even the series record tonight at home, but six and a half might be a little too steep a price to lay.
I’ll take the Vikings, who have played better basketball in conference and have lost their only three games in league play by a combined six points to do no worse than keep it close.