Northern Kentucky vs Cleveland State Odds, Prediction for Horizon Title Game

Northern Kentucky vs Cleveland State Odds, Prediction for Horizon Title Game article feature image
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Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Northern Kentucky head coach Darrin Horn (left) and the Norse.

Northern Kentucky vs Cleveland State Odds

Tuesday, March 7
7 p.m. ET
ESPN/ESPN+
Northern Kentucky Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
-2.5
-110
126.5
-115o / -105u
-142
Cleveland State Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
+2.5
-110
126.5
-115o / -105u
+118
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Northern Kentucky and Cleveland State just boat-raced their semifinal opponents yesterday to advance to the Horizon League title game. Now, they square off for all the marbles in Indianapolis.

The Vikings' demolition of Milwaukee yesterday was impressive. They refused to settle for outside jump shots and simply punished the Panthers with relentless rim attacks.

However, that blueprint won't be replicable against Northern Kentucky's zone defense. NKU baited Cleveland State into taking 18 3s in the second regular-season meeting between these two, and only six of those fell. Instead, the Vikings hammered the offensive glass to manufacture points the ugly way.

That's precisely what CSU needs to do tonight to score efficiently. The Vikings are devoid of elite shot-making, particularly from long distance. But their premier athletes, such as Deante "Spider" Johnson and Tae Williams, can snatch any missed shot out of the air.

Points will be at a premium on the other side of the ball, too. Cleveland State's defense is built on the same foundation as Iowa State's notoriously stingy defense — first-year head coach Daniyal Robinson was a TJ Otzelberger disciple.

NKU's stable of guards loves to penetrate and kick to find open shooters but cracking CSU's first line of defense will be a chore.

In short, this game sets up to be a rock fight. NKU's zone often sucks the life out of transition opportunities, while CSU's physicality offers little wiggle room to opposing offenses.

The total has been bet down from 128 to 126 in some places, indicating the slugfest we expect to see. However, the over has cashed in six of the last seven Horizon League Championship games, and both offenses are finding a rhythm in this tournament.

The best play here is to ride the hotter of the two hands, Northern Kentucky, which has been a fireball from long distance in this tournament. Both meetings in the regular season were decided by a point, so it's hard to see a blowout in either direction.

The separator is NKU's mental state, as the Norse will be bloodthirsty for a W in the wake of last year's devastating Horizon League Championship game collapse to Wright State.

In that light, tonight feels similar to Furman's recent redemption run through the SoCon Tournament.

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