NCAA Basketball Picks - Ball State Cardinals vs Valparaiso Crusaders

Valpo Crusaders Players

Sunday, November 27, 2016 3:51 PM GMT

Hey hoops fans. Looking for a free pick on Sunday's NCAA Basketball slate? Check out this play in the early Ball State at Valparaiso clash tipping off at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Ball State Cardinals (3-2 SU, 1-3 ATS)

Ball State had its best squad in recent memory last season, winning 20 games or more for the first time in well over a decade. The Cardinals shocked the Crusaders 69-66 in this matchup last year as 9.5-point underdogs.

Sophomore guard Tayler Persons, a Northern Kentucky transfer who sat out in 2015, leads the team with 19.0 points per game. The only other player in double figures is senior forward Franko House with 16.4 points per contest. House commands the paint and leads a frontcourt pulling down 27.4 defensive rebounds per contest, 39th most nationally.

Defensively, the Cardinals have failed to defend the arc well, yielding opponents a success rate of 36.5 percent from the 3-point line. In fact, yhey allow 7.6 per game from downtown. Since the start of last season, they are 4-11-1 ATS when gifting 7 three-pointers or more in a game.

 

Valparaiso Crusaders (5-1 SU, 2-2 ATS)

Valparaiso picked up a pair of quality wins against Alabama and BYU to bring home the MGM Grand Main Event title in Las Vegas this past week.

A lot has changed for the Crusaders since losing to George Washington in the NIT championship game last year. They have a new coach in Matt Lottich, who served as assistant the last three seasons. Moreover, small forward Alec Peters is the only returning starter. Valparaiso is not very deep, as Lottich has stuck primarily with a 6-man rotation to begin the season.

Peters leads the team with 25.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Senior guard Shane Hammink, who came off the bench last year, is posting 16.2 points and 2.5 assists per contest.

The Crusaders averaged 75.1 points per game in 2015, and look to be another top-scoring unit this year posting 78 or more in four of six contests. The difference in this game may unfold at the charity stripe. Valparaiso’s 83.5 percent from the free-throw line ranks second nationally. The team has failed to heat up from downtown, though, shooting 21 percent or less in four games.

 

Final Analysis

The Crusaders are 10-0 SU and 8-2 ATS at home against Mid-American Conference opponents. Ball State has lit up the scoreboard for 77 or more in every game this season, but has not faced a defense as tough as Valpo’s. It may struggle to catch 65 points in this one. For my NCAA Basketball pick, I say you better lay the points with the Crusaders as they look to avenge last year’s upset. Valpo -10.

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Free NCAAB Pick: Valparaiso -10

Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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