NCAA Basketball Pick: Green Bay -1 over Eastern Michigan

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

The underrated Green Bay Phoenix are off to a 5-2 start and come off of a nice win vs. Virginia, while Eastern Michigan has lost three straight. Take the Phoenix on Tuesday.

The road team could be undervalued Tuesday vs. a home team coming back to earth after an unrealistic start as the Green Bay Phoenix (5-2, 0-0 away) pay a visit to the Eastern Michigan Eagles (5-3, 5-1 home) at the EMU Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, MI at 7:00 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Green Bay as a tiny road favorite for this contest with the current line at -1 with odds of -116.

Green Bay is the preseason favorite to win the Horizon League, and it is easy to see why given how the Phoenix have performed in early non-conference play. They are now 5-2 with the first loss coming by three points to Wisconsin as just a 4½-point underdog, which should give you an idea of how highly regarded the Phoenix are this season, and the second loss came to another underrated team in Harvard, which received some votes in the AP Poll this week.

Eastern Michigan opened the season at 5-0, but they did so vs. a cream puff schedule that included a two Division II opponents and wins over UT Arlington, Robert Morris and Cleveland State, with all five of those wins coming at home. The Eagles have come back to earth since beginning to face real competition though, losing three straight to fall to 5-3 including a 12-point loss to Massachusetts the last time they were home.

The Phoenix are coming off of a home upset win over the Virginia Cavaliers out of the ACC on Saturday that that has lifted them to a season high 77th overall on the early Pomeroy Ratings, making them the only Horizon school in the Pomeroy Top 100. And their performance so far vs. major-conference schools has helped show that Green Bay is not a fluke.

Instead, this is a well balanced club that will not blow you away in any individual category but is fundamentally sound and does everything well. To wit, Green Bay is ranked a respectable 70th in the country on adjusted offensive efficiency and 107th in defensive efficiency, running ahead of the national average in both categories. It is also above average in turnover percentage and offensive rebounding percentage, and it is an excellent 30th in foul shooting at 75.7 percent.

That last stat would help if this is a close game late vs. an Eastern Michigan team that ranks a terrible 296th in free throw shooting at 64.5 percent, but after beating Virginia and taking Wisconsin down to the wire, the Phoenix should appreciate this drop in class even if it is their first true road game, and they should not really be involved in a game that close with their best effort.

Now, we get that the first two losses by Eastern Michigan following the 5-0 start were to Kentucky and a very good Massachusetts team, but the Eagles then lost to a Purdue club last time out that is currently ranked 16 spots below Green Bay at 93rd on Pomeroy. The problem for the Eagles has been offense, and that does not figure to change tonight.

EMU is ranked 288th in the country in offensive efficiency and 259th in effective field goal percentage. Besides the Eagles’ aforementioned struggles from the free throw line, they are hitting only 32.2 percent of their three-point attempts (213th) and 45.9 percent of their two-point attempts (258th), so do not be fooled by their 72.5 points per game as much of that success came in the first five games vs. outclassed opponents.

We look for Green Bay to handle this first road assignment of the year because they seem to be the considerably better team, so ride with the Phoenix on Tuesday.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Green Bay -1 (-116)

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