Upset Alert: Oakland +3 Our NCAA Basketball Pick Over Valparaiso

Willie Bee

Friday, January 8, 2016 3:57 PM UTC

Friday, Jan. 8, 2016 3:57 PM UTC

A very light Friday night for NCAA basketball odds card includes an interesting game in the Horizon League where the Valparaiso Crusaders visit the Oakland Golden Grizzlies.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Oakland +3
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline


College basketball promoters still haven't figured out a way to make Friday nights profitable, leading to a couple of months during a given season without any true marquee games for either bettors or fans. And with most schools still off for their holiday break, it can often lead to a tough ticket sale on some campuses right now.

Neither of those two problems should be the case tonight just outside Detroit where the Valparaiso Crusaders meet the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in a key Horizon League matchup. For starters, ESPN2 will televise the tip-off a little past 7 PM (ET), and finding a ticket at the Athletics Center O'rena in Rochester could be a tough task.

Of course, that's because the O'rena is one of the smaller venues with a capacity of only 3,000, but let's not confuse the issue with such details. Instead, let's focus on the NCAA basketball odds which find the Crusaders 2 point favorites at BetOnline after the spread opened -1. The same sports book started the total at 154.

This rivalry dates back to the old Mid-Continent Conference that eventually became today's Summit League, Valparaiso joining the Horizon in 2007 and Oakland hopping on board just a few years ago to renew the series with the Crusaders as conference foes. Valparaiso holds a 19-7 lead all-time, but things have evened up the past few years with Oakland winning the last three matchups on this floor and the Crusaders the two that have taken place in Indiana.

Oakland has also covered the last six meetings, including both last season as the underdog. The two clashes a year ago each went 'over' the totals while the 'under' was a winner both times in the 2013-14 campaign.


Rebounding & 3-Point Shooting Strengths For Valpo
Valparaiso (11-3 straight up, 6-5 against the spread) reaches the motor City with five wins in the last six trips to the floor, the only loss an 85-81 decision at Belmont just after Christmas as 4 point chalk. Bryce Drew's crew bounced back from the defeat with an easy 75-47 skate past Illinois-Chicago in the conference opener almost a week ago, covering a big 25½ point spread on the college basketball odds.

Scoring has been a bit of an issue, Valpo's 72 points per game average putting the Crusaders in the lower half of the country. A 35.5% success rate from 3-point range has bailed them out at times, along with some solid glass work (40 rpg) that finds Drew's charges grabbing 75% of rebounds on the defensive end of the floor.

Valparaiso is led by junior Alec Peters, the 6'-9" forward leading the squad in scoring (16.6 ppg) and rebounding (7.2 rpg). The Crusaders have been without senior wing E. Victor Nickerson the last three games due to a wrist injury, and he's going to remain out of action for the foreseeable future.


How Will Grizzlies Respond To Upset Loss?
Oakland (9-6 SU. 8-2 ATS) enjoyed an upset at Washington in December, followed by a near-upset of then No. 1 Michigan State just before Christmas, taking the top-ranked Spartans to overtime before succumbing. The Golden Grizzlies then at No. 5 Virginia just after 2016 calendars were hung, but managed to cover that game in the end.

Hoping to build off that tough non-con slate, head coach Greg Kampe and his group should've moved to 2-0 in the Horizon League this past Monday, but instead laid an egg in the matchup with Youngstown State, 100-98. The Grizzlies were favored by 17, but came out flat and could never really recover form an early deficit against the Penguins.

Kampe shouldn't have much trouble getting his team back up for this rivalry game, and with a road-heavy slate following Sunday's game against Illinois-Chicago, a win Friday is crucial for Oakland. Based on the series trend alone, my free NCAA basketball pick is on the home 'dog.

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