A very light college basketball betting card for Friday has our handicapper scrambling for winners in the Mid-American Conference and the Horizon League. Free picks are just a click away.
Akron vs. Toledo
We may not be anywhere near that point when a win or a loss might ensure a regular season conference title or derail those hopes. Still, Akron head coach Keith Dambrot understands the importance of the Zips' next Mid-American Conference opponent.
Dambrot takes the Zips west along I-90 for an in-state battle with the Toledo Rockets, one of only four games on Friday's college hoops fixture. ESPNU begins streaming coverage from Savage Arena at 7 PM (ET), and the home Rockets are favored by a half-dozen, a few shops sporting -6½ lines.
SBR's live NCAA basketball odds will have a total for the battle later this morning.
Most of the MAC will just be starting MAC play Saturday when both Akron (10-4 straight up, 4-4-1 against the spread) and Toledo have two games under their belts. The Zips scored a relatively easy 72-52 win at home over Western Michigan earlier this week, the same night the Rockets were dropping a close decision at home as 7 point favorites to Central Michigan. The difference between a 2-0/0-2 result with an Akron win could end up huge when conference tourney seeding takes place in early-March.
Dambrot and the Zips took a huge hit back in November when standout forward Demetrius Treadwell was suspended due to an assault charge. The senior led Akron in scoring a year ago and was obviously expected to help keep two streaks alive for the program -- 7 consecutive postseason tourneys and 9 consecutive 21+ win seasons. One way the Zips have made up for losing Treadwell's offense is by tightening up on defense, ranking in the top 15% of the nation allowing just over 50 a game.
Toledo (8-6 SU, 4-6 ATS) actually comes into this one with a higher Pomeroy listing than Akron despite two extra losses. Tod Kowalczyk's crew has four players averaging 11 PPG or higher, led by Julius Brown's 14.9 scoring clip, but turnovers have often been their demise, as they were against the Chippewas on Tuesday.
The Rockets hope to stop a 3-game home skid vs. Akron, and I think they'll get the dubya. Expecting a close battle, however, has me on Akron and the points for my NCAA basketball pick.
NCAA Basketball pick: Akron +6.5 at 5Dimes
Green Bay vs. Milwaukee
Last season ended on a sour note for Brian Wardle and Green Bay. The Phoenix stood 24-6 on Selection Sunday before being bypassed by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, then put forth a rather lackadaisical effort in their NIT Round 1 setback at home to Belmont.
A real thorn in their sides, so to speak, were the Milwaukee Panthers. Two of Green Bay's seven losses ultimately came to the Panthers...at home and favored by 11½ points each time on the closing college basketball betting boards.
So, yeah, you'll have to excuse the Phoenix if they come into Panther Arena Friday for a 9 PM (ET) contest that caught on ESPNU. Green Bay went out -9 on the NCAA betting board, and that's up to 9½ at most wagering outlets.
Milwaukee (5-11 SU, 4-9 ATS) beat the Phoenix in those two games by nearly identical scores, 73-63 late on the regular season slate and then 73-66 in overtime of the Horizon League Tournament semifinals to knock top-seeded Green Bay (12-3 SU, 8-4 ATS) out. The matchups were dissimilar, however, in that the Panthers used a big second half in the regular season matchup and nearly blew a big early lead in the other.
What the Panthers did well in both games was play defense, especially on the perimeter, and doing so this time means doing a number on Green Bay's solid guard tandem of Keifer Sykes and Carrington Love. Not to mention, for Milwaukee to play solid defense, it would simply be out of character for Rob Jeter's club.
Defense, on the other hand, has been a huge reason behind the Phoenix's 12-3 record at this point, and I'm banking on it being good enough tonight to beat the spread in Milwaukee.
NCAA Basketball pick: Green Bay -9.5 at BetOnline
Season: 11-17 (-7.70)