College Basketball Odds & Betting Picks: Northern Kentucky vs. Illinois Chicago, Hofstra vs. Northeastern
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images. Pictured: Tareq Coburn
- More NCCA Tournament tickets will be punched in the Colonial and Horizon League championship games on Tuesday.
- Mike Randle previews both matchups: Hofstra vs. Northeastern and Northern Kentucky vs. Illinois Chicago.
- See his analysis and picks on both games below.
Tuesday will bring five more teams into the Big Dance, sending the conference tournament champions from the NEC, CAA, WCC, Horizon, and Summit League to the NCAA Tournament.
Let’s take a closer look at two of those championship games, starting in the CAA and then the Horizon League.
The CAA features a rematch of last year’s championship between Hofstra and Northeastern. The Huskies upset the Pride last year after Hofstra won the regular-season title.
The Horizon League championship features the No. 2 seed Northern Kentucky Norse trying to hold off the No. 4 seed Illinois Chicago Flames.
Which teams should we back? Let’s take a closer look.
Tuesday College Basketball Odds & Picks
Hofstra vs. Northeastern
- Spread: Hofstra -1.5
- Over/Under: 139.5
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS
Hofstra (25-8) has been the class of the CAA for the past two seasons. The Pride are 25-7 in conference play over that time and have back-to-back regular-season titles. They are the best cover team in college basketball with a 24-8 record ATS and are a perfect 4-0 in neutral court games.
Northeastern (17-15) has found a way back to the CAA Tournament title game after just a 9-9 record in conference play. Head coach Bill Coen’s teams have actually reached three consecutive conference tournament finals, but was swept by Hofstra this season.
Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich has been on record about how disappointed the Pride were after losing last year’s championship game. Yet despite losing the two-time CAA Player of the Year Justin Wright-Foreman to graduation, they find themselves with a great chance to avenge last year’s loss.
Hofstra ranks first in CAA play in adjusted offensive efficiency, effective field goal percentage, and 3P%. The Pride also rank 10 in the nation in free-throw shooting at 78.2%.
The Pride are led by a pair of superior senior guards in Desure Buie (18.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 6.1 apg, 41.4% 3P) and Eli Pemberton (17.4 ppg, 5.6 rgg, 36.6% 3P). Buie was particularly lethal in the pair of wins over Northeastern, with an average of 22.5 points while shooting 45.5% (5 of 11) from 3P.
Northeastern brings the top adjusted defensive efficiency rating in CAA play, but struggles at defending inside the arc. The Huskies rank just 320th in 2P% defense, allowing opponents to shoot a robust 53.7%. They also have been just average against the 3P, and teams in the CAA to shoot an average of 34.1%.
The Huskies also struggled against Hofstra’s pressure defense, averaging 16 turnovers between their two regular-season losses.
I’m siding with Hofstra, and expect them to get one step further than last year and reach the NCAA Tournament. Northeastern only tallied one win in their last five regular-season road games, and I don’t see a third win in three nights against the top-seeded Pride.
Pick: Hofstra -1.5
Northern Kentucky vs. Illinois Chicago
- Spread: Northern Kentucky -5
- Over/Under: 126
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
Northern Kentucky (22-9) battled injuries throughout the season to finish second in the Horizon League. The Norse were 13-5 but were crushed at home by Illinois Chicago, 73-43. They are 16-12 ATS but just 2-4 in their last six games.
Illinois Chicago (18-16) finished in fourth place in the Horizon League, but have won six of their last seven games. The Flames are coming off a huge 73-56 won over No. 1 seeded Wright State. They are 19-13-1 ATS and have covered three games in a row and four of their past five.
The Flames are one of the hottest (no pun intended) teams in the country, having won three games in a row in the league tournament. They have used their Horizon-best defense to help spearhead their highly-efficient shooting offense. Illinois Chicago ranks third in league play in both 2P% and 3P%, and shot a brilliant 56.8% from inside the arc against Wright State.
With 6-foot-8 senior Jordan Blount (6.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg) returning mid-season from a torn ACL and meniscus in early June, the Flames quietly returned all five starters back from last season. Their three senior guards of Tarkus Ferguson (14.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg), Marcus Ottey (11.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg), and Godwin Boahen (10.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg) have been fantastic, and combined for 47 of their 73 points against Wright State.
Northern Kentucky generated 32.3% of its points in Horizon play via the 3P, yet shot a league-worst 28.8% from beyond the arc. They will find no easy path against the Flames, who held league opponents to a conference-best 26.1% from 3P.
This is a tough matchup for the Norse, which is illustrated by that huge defeat at home just three weeks ago.
I’m taking the points with Illinois-Chicago, it what should be a close game between two evenly-matched opponents.
Pick: Illinois-Chicago +5