Northern Kentucky-Wright State Betting Preview: Can the Raiders Keep Pace With the Norse?

Northern Kentucky-Wright State Betting Preview: Can the Raiders Keep Pace With the Norse? article feature image
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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Cole Gentry

Although just one ranked team is in action on Friday’s college basketball slate, there’s a huge Horizon League rematch between Northern Kentucky (20-6, 10-3) and Wright State (15-11, 9-4) in Dayton, Ohio.

With the league getting only an automatic bid in March Madness, positioning for the conference tournament becomes so critical. They’re the top-two teams in the Horizon League, with the Norse boasting an edge over the Raiders thanks to their four-point win — despite Wright State covering +4.5 — at home on Jan. 11.

Where’s the value in this showdown? Let’s break it down.


>> All odds as of Thursday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NCAAB odds and win probabilities on your bets.


Northern Kentucky Norse at Wright State Raiders

  • Spread: Wright State -1.5
  • Over/Under: 140
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPNU

The Norse (10-14 against the spread) have covered in consecutive games after dropping three straight contests ATS. On the flip side, the Raiders (13-11 ATS) have covered in four of their past five affairs — all of them outright wins.

In their latest matchup, Northern Kentucky took advantage of Wright State’s inconsistent interior defense, shooting 60.7% from inside the perimeter. The Raiders have let up the Horizon’s second-worst two-point clip (52.9%), where the Norse excel via the league’s first-rated Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (117.0 points per 100 possessions).

But one area Wright State didn’t take advantage of enough in the first go-around was turning Northern Kentucky over. Wright State has the conference’s first-rated Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (99.4 opponents’ points per possession) and owns the highest opponents turnover rate (20.6%), while the Norse own a below average 18.2% miscue clip.

Look for the Raiders ball pressure to slow down NKU’s 107th-ranked average possession length (16.9 seconds), along with their inside attack. Once Wright State began trailing in the second half of the first meeting, it relied too much on its perimeter offense (3-of-15) instead of continuing to run through the 6-foot-9 Loudon Love (15.0 points per game). That gave John Brannen’s group the go-ahead to push the pace in transition.

Scott Nagy’s crew has manufactured the fourth-highest two-point clip (51.4%) and second-highest scoring rate (51.4%) from that vicinity, respectively, in Horizon League play. With the Norse allowing the second-highest scoring rate (51.5%) from that area, Wright State is set up well to reverse course in this rematch by attacking the paint.

Northern Kentucky doesn’t present a sound matchup for Love with its small-ball lineup, either.

Not only is the under is 5-1 in Wright State’s six conference home games, but the Raiders have also manufactured the 61st-lowest Adjusted Tempo (65.3 possessions per 40 minutes) in Division I. I’d lean towards betting the under or passing if you’re interested in the total.

Per our Bet Labs data, Horizon League programs are 34-29 (54.0%) ATS at home vs. conference foes this season.

THE PICK: Wright State -1.5