MAC Division NCAA Basketball Picks: Western Michigan Won't Contain Akron

Mark Lathrop

Friday, January 8, 2016 1:49 PM UTC

Friday, Jan. 8, 2016 1:49 PM UTC

There's more MAC action to be had and our handicapper nailed his last MAC NCAAB Pick on Tuesday. Read on as he has spotted betting value for your Friday NCAA basketball pick.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Akron -11.5
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle


Western Michigan vs. Akron
In early season Mid-American Conference action, we have the Western Michigan Broncos (6-8, 0-1) on the road visiting the red hot Akron Zips (12-2, 1-0). Akron is on top of the MAC East Division standings with their record to date, while Western Michigan finds themselves in last place in the MAC West Division. With the notable difference in season records, Akron is a heavy favorite in this game at home. The line opened at 12 favoring the Zips at Pinnacle, but has since contracted to 11.5 points as early bettors grabbed the chalk given to the Broncos. The initial O/U total has opened at 141.5.

I faded Western Michigan in their conference opener against Kent St. as a 1-point underdog, and the Broncos came through for me by losing 87-84 in overtime. Western Michigan continues to search for a replacement for injured big-man, Connor Tava, With Tava out, the Broncos are reliant on a smaller lineup which will be dependent upon outside shooting to stay competitive. Thomas Wilder was the hot hand against Kent St., as he scored 28 points on 9-15 shooting from the floor and added 9-10 from the charity stripe. This game wouldn’t have been very close if Kent St. could have shot better than 18.8% from three-point distance or 72% from the free throw line though.

With a smaller lineup dependent on the 3-point shot, Western Michigan is either going to be hot and surprise someone, or be cold and get blown out. One could point to the 86-61 Western Michigan loss to Vanderbilt as a road map on how to beat the Broncos, as they only shot 2-18 from 3-point range in that game.

Akron won their 9th game in a row in their last matchup, a 75-71 road win against Buffalo in their conference opener. Akron also covered their fourth game in a row against the spread, winning as a 2.5-point favorite. It was a huge game for Akron, as Buffalo beat them in the MAC tournament last year to keep the Zips out of the NCAA Tournament. Akron is 6-2 ATS this year in games provided a point spread. Their ATS losses came in back-to-back games on the road at 11th ranked Villanova and Horizon League leading Green Bay.

Akron has won each of the last matchups between these two teams against the spread. All of those games occurred last season as Akron swept the season series and added a postseason game to boot. The Broncos have been terrible in Akron the last few years, going 1-7 ATS in their last eight meetings. Akron overall holds a 11-2 SU record against Western Michigan in their last 13 games as well.

Win-loss records and conference standings are not the only thing having notable differences: Akron is ranked 85th in RPI, while Western Michigan is ranked 252nd.

I’m very tempted to call this a letdown spot for Akron, as they just played an emotionally charged game at Buffalo. But I can’t really subscribe to that notion given that Akron played that game 3 days ago and these are 20 year-olds after all. The loss of Connor Tava gives Akron a huge advantage in the paint in this game, and Western Michigan will shoot their way out to a double-digit loss. Take Akron -11.5 at Heritage as one of your Friday NCAA basketball picks.

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