Green Bay has the best player in the Horizon League, which makes it a dangerous road underdog against revenge-minded Valparaiso Friday night.
Keifer Sykes has been the most important player to handicap when making your college basketball picks in the Horizon League in recent years, as he’s scored in double figures in 37-straight games versus conference rivals.
The senior was limited to 11 points on 4 of 17 shooting in a 51-50 victory over the Crusaders as 5.5-point home favorites on Jan. 23, but he’ll likely take over the game in the closing minutes at the ARC Friday. Live sports bettors need to keep an eye on the scoreboard down the stretch, as he’s averaging 12.2 points in the second half during league play.
Valparaiso will attract plenty of betting action as small home favorites on NCAA basketball odds due to winning nine of its last 10 games, with the only setback coming against tonight’s opponent.
The Crusaders are still wondering how they lost the first meeting due to finishing with a 35-27 advantage on the boards, which matched their league-leading +8.2 rebounding margin for the entire 2014-15 campaign.
It’s been a group effort on the glass to this point, with five players averaging 4.1 rebounds or more per game, but the Phoenix are capable of matching them due to ranking 73rd and 96th in defensive and offensive rebounding percentage respectively.
Dating back to the 2012-13 season, the Phoenix have compiled a 15-3 SU record in Horizon road games, including a 4-2 mark this year.
Sykes is a big reason for this success due to his all-around ability to take over a game, while the squad sits behind just 18 teams in defensive efficiency. Green Bay needs to get off to a fast start, as it has allowed an average of 26.5 points on 36.4 percent shooting in its 20 wins this season, while surrendering an average of 38.2 points on 55.8 percent shooting in its five losses.
The Crusaders have won 25 of their 31 home games in league play under head coach Bryce Drew, but they’ve gone just 1-5 ATS when favored by 3.5 to 6 points at this venue since the start of the 2012-13 campaign.
Valparaiso has put up some impressive offensive numbers on this floor, but I’m not sold on the group due to its schedule ranking 332nd in the country in regards to opposing defenses faced.
The Phoenix are the best all-around squad in the league, as they rank second in both offensive field goal percentage and defensive field goal percentage. Green Bay has a legitimate shot of earning a SU victory in this spot, while the underdog improves to 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Green Bay Phoenix +3.5 at Bookmaker