Welcome ladies, gentlemen and fellow NCAA men's college basketball degenerates, to my weekly Horizon League recap! I take a lot of pride in both breaking down and handicapping these CBB plays, simply because you can find some real edges in the market (along with other small conferences), and that's why you hear me constantly covering them in the podcast and on Twitter as well. This will be the intro in every article, and I will also be recapping/reviewing the Horizon League as well. Both of these conferences play on back-to-back nights vs. the same opponent to cut down on travel for COVID purposes.
Don’t be confused about the schedule when you go to bet these games, as each of these conferences mainly play Friday/Saturday or Saturday/Sunday. Both articles will be out by Wednesday night (Thursday at the latest) every week through March Madness. Personally, I handicap every conference game and keep a lot of my work private. I do this because it forces me to look at every conference game and it helps me find real holes, since we are somewhat limited on our weekly choices. If you have any questions, thoughts or insights for now and/or going forward, feel free to contact me on Twitter any time @DanRivera228.
Author's Note: I went 2-1 on Friday and didn’t post anything for Saturday because I didn’t want to force anything. I am hoping to be firing off more of my Horizon league plays now, as I was waiting for a larger sample size on both conferences, particularly because some of these teams don’t have many road games.
RECAP: IPFW @ UW Milwaukee (MILW)
- Game 1: IPFW 81-72 (IPFW +3.5, over 148.5)
- Game 2: IPFW 81-74 (IPFW +3.5, over 148.5)
- Last year: didn’t play
Points, points, and more points. IPFW was known for its defense last year and its very mediocre offense. That has flipped this year, to say the least. IPFW is #1 in regards to three-point percentage on KenPom, #2 in effective field goal percentage, and #24 in the country overall in pace. This team is playing fast and putting up points, which is a recipe for overs. Don’t be surprised when I start giving out overs for this team.
Both of these teams' weekend games had similar box scores here. IPFW in Game 1 shot 7-20 (35%) from three and in Game 2 shot 12-17 (70.6%) from three. Simply unreal shooting from IPFW here in the second game. MILW had no chance of winning that second game because of the ridiculous opposing three-point shooting. To make matters worse for MILW, IPFW shot 27-43 (62.8%) from the field in the same game that they hit all of those threes. When your opponent puts up stats like that, you have virtually 0% chance of winning. MILW isn’t a good team, but they have good overall statistics because of a lack of total games and quality Horizon League competition. IPFW just out shot MILW here, and it showed in the box score.
RECAP: IUPUI @ Northern Kentucky University (NKU)
- Game 1: IUPUI 74-69 (IUPUI +8, over 141.5)
- Game 2: IUPUI 65-63 (IUPUI +7.5, under 141.5)
- Last year: NKU 2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS, 2-0 O/U
This was the most surprising set of games this weekend in Horizon League play. IUPUI was atrocious last year and is atrocious this year as well. IUPUI won outright twice. I didn’t expect them to win either of these games. NKU has been very good the last two years and this year this team has been underwhelming.
In Game 1, IUPUI shot 9-18 from three (50%) while NKU shot 6-23 from three (26.1%). NKU did shoot 50.9% from the field, but it's very difficult to win games when your opponent is having a very good shooting night from three like IUPUI was. I have said this before and will say it again - NKU turns the ball over a ton and is not a good free throw shooting team. You can’t turn the ball over to teams who don’t force turnovers well on the whole, and in the end here NKU had 15 turnovers compared to IUPUI's 10. This was a two-point game with 1:42 left, and IUPUI then hit a shot with 1:02 left to go up by four points.
Game 2, same story different day. NKU had a better shooting percentage from the field (47.9 to 43.9) but IUPUI once again out-shot them from three-point range. IUPUI shot 36.7% from three overall while NKU shot 30.8% from beyond the arc. NKU again had more turnovers with 18 compared to IUPUI's 14. NKU is simply a struggling team this year, and it will be a team I'm looking to fade as the season goes on. I am very happy that I stayed away from this game, because I would have most likely ended up backing NKU.
RECAP: Wisconsin Green Bay (GB) @ Detroit
- Game 1: Detroit 86-61 (Detroit -3.5, under 150)
- Game 2: Detroit 68-65 (GB +6, under 146)
- Last year: GB 2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS, 1-1 O/U
Nothing much about these games to note, so I will keep this recap quick. Both of these teams stink. GB sits at 3-11 on the season, while Detroit is 3-7 on the season. Detroit had a good shooting night in Game 1, going 65.4% from three and 66% overall from the field, well above its season average. Game 2 was much closer and came down to the last minute. I will be looking to fade each of these teams for most of the year.
RECAP: Youngstown State (YSU) @ Oakland
- Game 1: Oakland 82-65 (Oakland -2.5, under 148.5)
- Game 2: Oakland 81-74 (Oakland -3, over 149)
- Last year year: Oakland 1-1 SU, 2-0 ATS, 2-0 O/U
Another set of games here that there isn’t much to come away with. Oakland currently sits at 5-12 while YSU is 6-7. I am not surprised Oakland won both games and covered here, as YSU's defense is currently ranked #345 on KenPom. Oakland's offense is below average on offense at #176, but YSU has struggled with teams who can shoot. Oakland in Game 1 shot 50% from three and 51.8% from the field. In Game 2 the stats were identical in almost all areas. Once again Oakland just was better shooting from the field and from three than Youngstown State. I am surprised YSU is sitting at three conference wins on the year, with one of them being against Wright State. These are teams I will struggle backing for the rest of the season.
RECAP: Robert Morris (RMU) @ University of Illinois Chicago (UIC)
- Game 1: UIC 67-53 (UIC -2.5, under 141.5)
- Game 2: UIC in OT 66-62 (UIC, under 139.5)
- Last year year: didn’t play
Now we finally get to some interesting teams here. Robert Morris has already showed the ability to put up over 100 points this year and 80+ in another game. The problem was, however, at least one of those games came against IPFW, a bottom-tier defense ranked #274 currently on KenPom. Robert Morris is currently 3-5 in its first year in the Horizon League Conference. UIC, on the other hand, doesn’t have a good offense, but it has an average defense, ranking #148 in the nation. UIC's offense is interesting because in conference play it has dropped point totals of 74, 90, 89, 55, 67, and 66. I am not 100% sold this offense isn’t better than what KenPom is showing. In Hame 1, Robert Morris shot an abysmal 7.1% from three-point range en route to dropping a 67-53 defeat. Everything else is irrelevant after that.
In Game 2, Robert Morris shot slightly better from three (15.4%) and UIC shot 21.1% from three. Talk about missed shots galore. Robert Morris shot 33.3% from the field, too, and I would have laid a lot of money on the fact that with those stats for Robert Morris there was no way this game would go into OT. This game went in OT though because Robert Morris scored 22 of its 62 points from the free throw line. Robert Morris is a team that I am just not sure about - how good or bad are they, really? but I am leaning toward the bad side. UIC definitely offers betting chances though, and it's a team that I will be keeping an eye on.
RECAP: Cleveland State (CLEV) @ Wright State (WRST)
- Game 1: CLEV 66-64 (CLEV +9, under 137.5)
- Game 2: WRST 85-49 (WRST -8.5, under 134.5)
- Last year: WRST 2-0 SU, 0-2 ATS, 1-1 O/U
Cleveland State came into this series as my best team so far in Horizon League Conference play. CLEV is 9-4 overall, but it's a stellar 9-1 overall in the conference. WRST is 9-4 and 7-3 in conference play. WRST has dropped some games to crappy teams such as Oakland and Youngstown State, however, which I can’t really explain outside of the fact of this team seemingly just mailing it in and not giving maximum effort.
Game 1 was a 50-50 contest, as WRST scored with four seconds left to tie the game. WRST had a down shooting night, going 27.8% from three, but that was expected because Cleveland State is an above average defense (#123) and #3 at defending the three-point shot, as well as #3 in effective FG% in Horizon League conference play. This isn't why WRST lost though. WRST lost this game because it committed 17 turnovers compared to Cleveland State's nine. You simply can’t commit that many turnovers in a close like this one was. WRST also out-rebounded Cleveland State 37-31 and only committed 12 fouls compared to Cleveland State's 21. Turnovers doomed this WRST team and eventually helped CLEV earn a 66-64 win.
Game 2 wasn’t very interesting at all, and to me it came down to Cleveland State getting its one win on the road and being happy about that. Cleveland State shot 27.9% from the field and 21.4% from three-point land. WRST shot 37.5% from the field and 29.4% from three, but this team was also out-rebounded by Cleveland State 50-38. Cleveland State committed 35 fouls compared to WRST's 15. WRST also took 48 free throws in this game, a game in which CLEV looked lost from the opening tip in losing 85-49.