Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Friday.
The hosting team in the Global Sports Showcase could have the advantage Friday night when the Cleveland State Vikings (2-3, 0-3 away) take on the Marshall Thundering Herd (3-2, 3-1 home) with this tournament taking place on the home floor of Marshall, the Cam Henderson Center in Huntington, WV at 8:00 ET.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Marshall as a tiny home underdog for this contest with the current line at +1½ with odds of -106.
Both Teams Covered vs. Louisville
These teams have something in common in that they both visited sixth ranked Louisville within this past week and both clubs managed to cover the spread as huge underdogs! Marshall visited the Cardinals last Friday and lost just 85-67 as 27½-point underdogs, with those 67 points coming one point shy of the most points Louisville has allowed in five games so far, which was 68 points by Minnesota out of the Big Ten.
Cleveland State just visited Louisville Wednesday and was also the losing outright NCAA Basketball pick by an unlikely score of 45-33 as a 24-point underdog. The Vikings were unable to solve the Cardinal defense as well as Marshall did, but Cleveland State put forth a tremendous defensive effort holding Louisville to 15-of-47, 31.9 percent shooting! Unfortunately the Vikings shot just 25.0 percent themselves while making a mere 13 field goals for the whole game.
Trying to Avoid Losing Streak
As oftentimes happens after facing Louisville, that outing took something out of the Thundering Herd and they were subsequently upset by Morehead State at home 77-68 on Wednesday. That makes this a huge game for Marshall as it has now lost two straight following a 3-0 start and has tough matchups vs. South Carolina, Penn State and West Virginia coming up next, making this a huge game if the Herd probably want to avoid a prolonged losing streak.
And while Marshall did a better job offensively vs. Louisville than Cleveland State did, it is the Marshall defense that should play a pivotal part in this game. That is because the Thundering Herd are limiting opponents to an effective field goal percentage of just 44.2 percent and they should have little problem containing a Cleveland State offense that is ranked only 229th in effective field goal percentage offensively at 45.5 percent.
Letdown Spot for Cleveland State
And as Marshall suffered a letdown following the Louisville loss, Cleveland State seems even more likely to suffer the same fate considering that outing took place just two nights ago and also considering the extraordinary amount of energy that the Vikings exuded on the defensive end in that contest.
The Vikings come off of a 21-12 season where they finished second in the Horizon League with a 12-4 conference mark for Coach Gary Waters before getting upset by Wright State in the Horizon League Tournament. However, their leading scorer last season Bryn Forbes transferred to Michigan State and the offense has struggled mightily without him through the early going.
Nice Balance Offensively
Conversely, Marshall has had excellent distribution offensively with Ryan Taylor leading the way at 16.4 points per game on 47.4 percent shooting, as Shawn Smith, Cheikh Sane and Austin Loop have also combined for 31.0 points with each player shooting a minimum of 47.0 percent.
Look for that offensive balance to give a potentially drained Cleveland State team fits, and with the added advantage of home court look for Marshall to prevail on Friday.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Marshall +1½ (-106)