Another weak college basketball betting card is on tap for Friday, but the short slate does include a crucial Horizon League battle between Cleveland State and the Green Bay Phoenix.
In case you've missed it, there's a great race going on in the Horizon League. Valparaiso leads a 3-team contingency at the top of the ranks, the two squads just a game behind the Crusaders set to square off on Friday's short schedule.
With Valpo facing what should be a cakewalk at home Saturday against Wright State, Friday's tussle between the Cleveland State Vikings and Green Bay Phoenix will offer the victor a chance to remain just a game back of the Crusaders. The top two seeds in the HL Tournament get the first round off, and Cleveland State presently holds the tiebreaker over Green Bay, making the matchup double important for the Phoenix.
The two rivals are getting some prime-time attention from ESPN2 in the 7 PM (ET) clash at Resch Center, located just a block or two from Brett Favre's Steakhouse off Lombardi Avenue. Green Bay went out as high as -7½ at one sports book charted by the NCAA basketball betting odds, the spread now -5 across the board. The total is currently listed at 122.
Can Vikings Broom Phoenix In Season Series?
Cleveland State earned the current tiebreaker advantage by beating Green Bay at home on the last day of January, 76-62. Trey Lewis and Anton Grady led a strong offensive performance for the Vikings with 25 and 24 points respectively, and CSU outscored the Phoenix 21-6 at the free throw line to grab a relatively easy victory in a game that closes as a pick on the college basketball odds board.
The triumph ended a string of five consecutive wins and covers for Green Bay in a series the Phoenix lead 41-28. The final score also topped a 121 point total to end a run of four straight 'under' winners.
Green Bay has a strong 24-9 home advantage over CSU; the Vikings' last win at Resch Center came in December 2010, an 83-75 dubya as 4½ point road favorites.
Mother Nature Affords Vikes Extra Rest
Cleveland State (16-11 straight up, 12-12 against the spread) was to have tuned up for this bag match with a Tuesday tilt at the Western Carolina Catamounts. That game fell victim to the snowstorm that dumped on the area earlier this week, giving Gary Waters and his staff time to prep the Vikings for this weekend road trip through Wisconsin, Friday's contest in Green Bay trailed by a stop in Milwaukee on Sunday.
The Vikings head into tonight's clash having won four of their last five and coming off a 67-59 win vs. Illinois-Chicago last Sunday. Cleveland State shot over 53% from the field overall, including 8-of-15 from 3-point range, and held the Flames to 18-of-64 (28%) on defense, yet still couldn't cover the -14 line on the NCAA odds.
Pressure On Phoenix As Schedule Winds Down
Green Bay (21-6 SU, 13-11 ATS) has also won four of its last five, the only loss in that stretch a tough 63-59 decision at Valparaiso a week ago. The Phoenix put forth a valiant comeback attempt after trailing by as many as 15 in the second half, but cold shooting in the first half along with the Crusaders dominating the glass were too much to overcome.
Brian Wardle's boys bounced right back on Wednesday at home, scoring a season-high 96 to beat Detroit by 20 as 12 point chalk. Greg Mays enjoyed a career night with 34 points in the win, the Phoenix using a 17-5 run at the end of the first half to take charge.
Green Bay has been the smart play in this series, especially at home, but I'm not liking either team all that much. The total should wind up around where it was in the previous matchup, low-to-mid-120s, and the 'under' will be my free college basketball pick.
Season: 51-44-1 (+2.6)