NCAA Basketball Picks: Lay The Points In Central Michigan vs. Akron's Crucial Matchup

Willie Bee

Friday, February 5, 2016 12:16 PM UTC

Friday, Feb. 5, 2016 12:16 PM UTC

A possible preview of the MAC Championship is part of our free NCAA basketball picks lineup for this Friday as Central Michigan travels to take on the Akron Zips.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Akron -5
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker


One of the shortest Friday night college basketball betting cards is what we're faced with this time.  You almost have to be an Ivy Leaguer to get excited about it, that conference hogging almost half of the nine games on the slate. Perhaps your only interest is tuning into ESPN3 to catch the latest shenanigans from Monmouth's bench.

Or maybe, just maybe, you are intrigued by the potential preview of the Mid-American Conference Championship over on the CBS Sports Network. That's right, the teams sitting alone in first of their respective East and West Divisions are going at it in Akron where the Zips host the Central Michigan Chippewas in an 8 PM (ET) clash at James A. Rhodes Arena.

Akron is giving up 5 points at Bookmaker while CMU backers can get 5½ on their club at 5Dimes, and scoreboard players have to make a decision on a 146 target.

Both teams are nursing fragile 1-game leads in their divisions, Central Michigan's 6-3 conference mark putting the Chippewas just ahead of Northern Illinois and Ball State while Akron sits 7-2 in the East with Kent State and Buffalo hot on the Zips' tail. Akron is far and away the top-rated team in the conference, a 17-4 record against Division I schools good enough for No. 55 in the latest RPI and 68th on Ken Pomeroy's chart.


Chips Looking For Rare Season Sweep Of Zips
The teams are meeting for the second time, marking the first time since 2008 the Zips and Chippewas collide twice in the regular season. Their first battle was a little more than three weeks ago in Mount Pleasant where CMU stopped two Akron streaks with a 92-81 decision. Tied at halftime 40-all and the Zips up by a point with 10 to go, the Chips finally took control of the contest that closed as a pick 'em on the NCAA basketball odds in Vegas, offshore sports books generally favoring Central Michigan by 1.

The most telling stat from that game was a 20-5 scoring advantage for the Chippewas at the free throw line. Braylon Rayson led the way for Central Michigan with 24 points, teammate Chris Fowler adding 20 of his own.

The final halted Akron's 10-game win streak at the time, and the Zips would drop their only other MAC game three days later at Toledo. It also halted an 8-game win streak by the Zips in the series, CMU's last win coming in 2008 and the Chips' most recent victory at the JAR in Akron way back in 2003. The Zips still hold a commanding 30-14 advantage in the rivalry, two of the last three on this floor finishing 'under' the totals.


Zips In Midst Of 6-Game Conference Win Streak At Home
The January 12 win over the Zips didn't provide the immediate springboard for Central Michigan (13-9 straight up, 7-7-1 against the spread) head coach Keno Davis was hoping for. The Chippewas went out on the road after that and dropped games at Buffalo and Northern Illinois, each time as small pups on the college basketball betting board, before coming back around with four consecutive winds entering Friday. One of the dubyas in the streak did come on the road, leaving CMU 2-2 both on the floor and at the window in MAC road tilts, 5-5 both ways in such affairs dating to last season.

Akron (18-4 SU, 10-6 ATS) has won five in a row since the little 2-game skid previously mentioned, the first three in the string at home and the last two a week ago at Ball State and Ohio. Keith Dambrot's crew covered last four in the streak, and the 'over' is also 4-1 during the current run. The Zips have won their last six conference home tilts, cashing tickets in four of those contests that date to last February.

A couple of my Chippewa friends are not going to like this, but my free NCAA basketball pick is laying the points on the Zips.

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