NCAA Basketball Pick: Oakland -4 over Illinois State

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, December 16, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Monday, Dec. 16, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Do not be fooled by the fact that the Oakland Golden Grizzlies are 2-9 as they have literally faced the toughest schedule in the country and should roll at home Monday.

If you want to talk about deceiving records, consider that the 2-9 home team here has faced the toughest schedule in the country so far, and it has a great chance to finally roll on Monday with a drop in class when the Illinois State Redbirds (5-4, 2-1 away) pay a visit to those Oakland Golden Grizzlies (2-9, 2-0 home) at Athletics Center O Rena in Rochester, MI at 7:00 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Oakland as a home favorite for this contest with the current line at -4 with odds of -106.

Yes you read that correctly, the 2-9 team is a four-point favorite here and we actually like the Golden Grizzlies quite a bit. After all, that record is quite understandable when you consider the teams that Oakland has faced this season and we expect the Golden Grizzlies to benefit from those experiences and lay a thumping tonight now that they are finally facing a team that they should handle.

Now, we mean no disrespect to Illinois State when we say that, as the Redbirds are 5-4 after all with a winning 2-1 mark in true road games. But it is probably safe to say that none of the teams that the Redbirds have beaten are as good as most of the teams that Oakland has been battling on a nightly basis this year.

But do not take our word for it. Instead, consider that Oakland has literally faced the toughest schedule in the country so far this season, leading the nation in SOS according to the Pomeroy Ratings. Oakland is 0-6 in true road games this year, but you must consider that five of those losses came at North Carolina, UCLA, California, Gonzaga and Indiana!

The Grizzlies have gone 2-0 at home while showing what they are capable of vs. lesser competition, winning both games vs. double-digits over one Division II school and over Ohio out of the MAC. And on top of that, they come off of a loss to another powerhouse in Michigan State on Saturday on a neutral court at Auburn Hills, where Oakland actually led at the half and hung with the Spartans from start to finish before losing by just a 67-63 score.

That contest should set up the Grizzlies nicely for this return home, especially since they figure to win the turnover battle. That is because despite that monstrosity of a schedule, Oakland is ranked 36th in the country in defensive turnover percentage at 21.4 percent, and it has done a good job of protecting the ball in the offensive end, turning the ball over 17.1 percent of the time against a national average of 18.5 percent.

That pressure defense could easily rattle an Illinois State that ranks a dismal 195th in offensive turnover percentage at 19.0 percent, and on top of that the Redbirds are not a great shooting team with an effective field goal percentage of just 47.9 percent despite not facing the same caliber of teams that Oakland has.

The Redbirds do come out of the stronger conference in the Missouri Valley Conference, which is one of the best mid-major conferences in the land, while Oakland is making a switch to the Horizon League after playing in the Summit League since moving up to Division I for the 2002-03 season, but the ambitious schedule that the Golden Grizzlies have faced more that makes up for the difference in these teams’ conferences.

Thus, look for Oakland to greatly appreciate this drop in class and go to 3-0 at home with a safe victory Monday.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Oakland -4 (-106)

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