Talented Roster Makes Northern Illinois Our NCAA Basketball Pick Over Ohio

Mark Lathrop

Wednesday, January 6, 2016 12:52 PM GMT

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Northern Illinois 
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

 

Ohio vs. Northern Illinois Mid-American Conference Opener
In this Mid-American Conference opener for both teams, we have the 9-3 Ohio Bobcats visiting the 11-2 Northern Illinois Huskies. The matchups between these two teams have not been close over recent years, so it is a little surprising that the NCAA basketball odds have opened at pick’em across the board. The O/U total has opened at 142.5 at Bookmaker. The matchup can be found on ESPN3.

Ohio is coming into conference play on the heels of a dominating 81-59 win at home against UC Riverside. It was the fifth straight win for the Bobcats as they held UC Riverside to a season low points total. That’s even after UC Riverside shot 50% from behind the three-point line. Treg Setty of Ohio led all scores with 20 points and added 10 rebounds in the game. The Bobcats were excellent on their free throws, hitting 20 of 21 from the charity stripe.

Northern Illinois’ last game was against a school I’ve unfortunately never heard of, NAIA Judson College. Of course, Northern Illinois won that game with a score of 91-48 and hopefully Judson got a check out of it to cover their uniforms for next year.

Since so many reserve players logged significant minutes against Judson, you really have to go back to the game against 2-10 Illinois Chicago to find an opponent the starters played in. The Huskies were not impressive in that game and lost ATS, although they did pull out a win 70-65. Senior guard, Travon Baker, led Northern Illinois in scoring with 20 points in that game. Baker is one of three seniors that log significant minutes for the Huskies.

Speaking of seniors, the Ohio Bobcats don’t have one on their roster.

 

Betting Analysis
As I mentioned above, these two teams have not played in any nail biters in recent memory. All games in the last ten years have been decided by 7 points or more – usually much more. In the last matchup between these teams almost exactly a year ago, Northern Illinois won on the road by ten points as an eight-point road underdog. That game marked the third in a row that the visiting team had covered the spread. There has also been three unders in a row over the same time frame.

The game last year, a 70-60 Northern Illinois win, also marked the first time the Huskies had beat the Bobcats since February of 2007. Northern Illinois is just 2-8 SU against Ohio in their last ten matchups.

Of course, when you dig a little deeper, you find that these teams are 115th and 119th in RPI rankings so far this year. That’s basically a statistical tie, which makes the pick’em odds start making a little more sense. Northern Iowa has had the easier schedule to rack up the 11 wins, including 4 games versus Division II or below teams. Ohio has played just one team below Division I.

In this game, although Northern Illinois is 1-7 in its last 8 games when playing Ohio, they are 5-0 SU in their last five games at home. And coming off of their win against Ohio last year, I like the fact that they will have those seniors back for this game. That’s why, for my NCAA basketball picks, I’ll be taking Northern Illinois to win this game outright at Pinnacle as one of my Wednesday College Basketball Picks

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