Finding NCAA Basketball Betting Value on Light Friday Schedule

Darin Zank

Friday, January 23, 2015 3:22 PM UTC

Friday, Jan. 23, 2015 3:22 PM UTC

Our NCAA Basketball Pick 'O the Day for Friday comes to us from an unlikely source, the Horizon League, where defending-champion and preseason favorite Green Bay is being challenged by Valparaiso.

The Betting Odds
Most online sportbooks we checked with opened Green Bay at -5 or -5.5, with a total of 123.5. In the early betting the spread was holding steady, but the total got bumped to 125 on most NCAA Basketball odds boards.

Those with an inkling Valpo might win this game outright could get +220 on the moneyline at 5Dimes.


Crusaders-Phoenix: The Match-Up
Green Bay returned four starters this season from a team that won the Horizon League regular-season title last season but got upset in the conference tournament, missing out on the NCAA tournament. Off to a 16-4 start this season, the Phoenix are tying to rectify the situation.

Green Bay began this season 11-3, including an upset victory at Miami as an 11-point underdog. The Phoenix have since won five of their first six conference games, and two in a row, after losing at Oakland eight days ago. Green Bay then won at Detroit 70-64, covering as a five-point favorite on the road, then Tuesday beat Illinois-Chicago 78-55, covering as a 17-point favorite at home.

The Phoenix shot 48 percent from the floor in the win against the Titans, then 51 percent in the victory over the Flames.

So Green Bay, despite being a favorite almost every time out this season, is 11-6 ATS, and 5-2 ATS over its last seven games.

Valpo also returned four starters this season, from a team that finished 18-16 last season, 9-7 in conference play. So the Crusaders had hopes of a moving up a notch or two, perhaps even contending. So far, they're on the right path.

Valpo went 13-2 through its non-con schedule, beating nobody of any note, losing only to Missouri and New Mexico. The Crusaders then opened Horizon League play with an overtime loss at Oakland. But since then Valpo has won five straight, and gone 4-1 ATS, most recently winning at Youngstown State Tuesday night 77-62, covering as an eight-point favorite on the road. Just before that the Crusaders won at Wright State 66-56, covering as a one-point favorite.

On the season Valpo, like Green Bay, has been a moneymaker, going 10-5 ATS.

The Crusaders only shot 41 percent from the floor against the Raiders last Saturday, but won the battle on the boards by a 46-25 margin. Valpo then shot 55 percent from the floor against the Penguins, and made 10 of 16 three-point attempts.

Big-picture, the Phoenix and Crusaders are tied for first place in the Horizon at 5-1 in conference play. Remember, the Horizon League's automatic NCAA tournament bid goes to the winner of the conference tournament, and seeds earned during the regular season decide the host sites for the tournament games.

Click here for Another Handicapper's Free Pick on this Matchup.

Crusaders-Phoenix Recent History
These teams split two games last season, each winning and covering on their home court. Valpo won the first meeting, shooting 59 percent in a 75-60 victory, but then shot just 36 percent from the floor in a 67-53 Phoenix victory in Green Bay.

Both those games played UNDER their totals, 142 and 136.


Crusaders-Phoenix Key Stats
Valpo is shooting almost 47 percent from the field this season, and 37 percent from long range, but only 67 percent from the FT line. The Crusaders are also holding foes to less than 38 percent FG shooting.

Green Bay is also shooting just under 47 percent from the floor, but just 31 percent from 3-point land and 63 percent from the line. Defensively, Phoenix foes are shooting 39 percent.


Crusaders-Phoenix Betting Trends
Green Bay has skewed toward the OVERS this season by a 7-1 margin, even though Phoenix games have only averaged 128 points. But Green Bay games, for whatever reason, have averaged 140 points in the eight contests with posted totals.

Valpo is 5-3 on the totals, as Crusaders games have averaged 134 points.

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Crusaders-Phoenix Free Pick
We give Green Bay the edge in the battle to win the Horizon League this season, but this is a very close match-up. However, two things points us toward the underdog in this spot. One, the Phoenix have a little trouble making free-throws, and two, the line is probably inflated by a bucket or so. And the combination of those two things is usually not conducive toward covering spreads. So we'll take Valpo, plus the points.

And since we're only placing our NCAA Basketball picks on one game today we'll play a two-pick parlay on this one, and hook the Crusaders with the OVER.

Free College Basketball Pick: Valpo and the OVER parlayed at 5Dimes, one betting unit to win 2.8 units

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