That could be the case for the Atlantic Sun clash in the Cincinnati suburbs between the Lipscomb Bisons and host Northern Kentucky Norse. The game can be viewed on ESPN3 with the tip-off at Bank of Kentucky Center shortly past 7 PM (ET). Neither a spread nor a total is available on SBR's live college basketball odds, so check back later to see if late numbers are posted. Lipscomb has yet to play a game with any official odds.
The teams split their two meetings a season ago, Northern Kentucky's first at the Division I level. The Norse won the initial meeting on this floor, 67-53, thanks to a strong night from beyond the arc (13-of-28) and 18 points off the bench from then-freshman Jack Flournoy.
Lipscomb took the follow-up back in Nashville, 76-58, turning the tables on Northern Kentucky by hitting 11-of-21 from 3-point range, six of those long heaves by Deonta Alexander who scored a game-high 22. Neither contest included odds.
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Bisons Look To Get Martin Smith Back On Floor
Casey Alexander is in his first season as the head coach at Lipscomb (7-12 straight up, 0-0 against the spread), and things haven't gone nearly as well as in his previous A-Sun gig with the Stetson Hatters. Alexander inherited a fairly young team with eight of the 13 members on the roster either freshmen or sophomores this year, and the loss of the team's top two scorers from last season, Deonta Alexander and Stephen Hurt.
The Bisons sit just a half-game out of the Atlantic Sun cellar after splitting their past four league tilts in won one, lose one fashion. They most recently were on the floor at home last Saturday vs. conference co-leaders Mercer, falling behind the Bears early before eventually succumbing, 87-66.
Lipscomb played that game without team and conference leading scorer Martin Smith plus Talbott Denny. Both were missing due to ankle injuries, and each should be back on the floor Friday night.
Smith, a 6-4 junior, is averaging 16.7 points per game while is twin brother Malcolm is third on the squad with a 12.8 scoring clip.
NKU Making Strides At Upper Level
Dave Bezold certainly hasn't been afraid to schedule Northern Kentucky (8-12 SU, 1-2 ATS) against some of the big boys in their second year of Div-I play. Bezold, who is in his 10th season at NKU, started the Norse off with road games at Purdue and then-No. 1 Kentucky, and also included a trip to Chapel Hill to meet the North Carolina Tar Heels on the slate.
The Norse lost all three of those games, naturally, but they're sitting in the middle of the Atlantic Sun pack with a 4-4 mark thanks to some of that tough, early competition. All four of their conference wins have come at home, the only conference home loss to Mercer a little more than a week ago, 74-58.
Like Lipscomb, Bezold has a young squad with 11 underclassmen filling the bulk of the NKU roster. Junior Guard Jordan Jackson leads the team with 14.7 PPG while his backcourt mate Tyler White, a sophomore, is second with 10.5 PPG.
Offense certainly isn't the strength of the Norse, but then they'll be going up against one of the nation's weaker defensive teams in Lipscomb. I'll make my free college basketball pick on the home team.
My pick: Lean Northern KentuckySeason: 23-16 (+5.4)