All right everyone, this is the other Summit League conference game that I was looking at for the Betting Predators CBB free play podcast we released on late Thursday night. Look for my future "game of the week" breakdown articles each weekend for the duration of the college hoops season too. Let's get it!
Nebraska Omaha @ North Dakota State (-8.5, 137.5) - Friday January 8, 2021
I like North Dakota State laying the -8.5 here over Nebraska Omaha on Friday. If you actually go back through these teams' head to head series since 2018, NDSU is 5-2 SU/ATS and 3-4 O/U. The two wins and covers for Omaha were in 2019 when NDSU was barely a .500 team yet still won that year's Summit League conference tournament and got into March Madness as one of the play-in teams as a #16 seed.
Since 2018, NDSU is also 12-10-1 ATS as a home team with a margin of victory (MOV) of +12.9, as well as covering the spread by an average +1.3 points per game. Since 2019, they are 5-6-1 ATS, MOV of +14.4, and covering the spread by +0.5 points. This year, NDSU is 7-3 ATS, with a MOV of -2.3, but still covering games by +3.5. This is NDSU's first home game of the year, as they all have been on the road or on a neutral site so far to start both the 2021 overall regular season and 2021 Summit League conference play.
Luckily for the NDSU Bison, Omaha isn’t very good on the road. Since 2018, Omaha IS18-21-1 ATS, MOV of -9.8, and failing to cover by 2.2 points per game. Since 2019, Omaha is 8-14-1 ATS, MOV of -14.9, and -6.0 ppg ATS. In 2020, this team is even worse, checking in at 1-5 ATS, MOV of -15, and failing to cover by 6.2 ppg ATS. Omaha in 2018 had a dream year of going 24-11 overall with a conference record of 13-3, thus causing its stats to be skewed. That year they went 18-12 ATS and 12-6-1 ATS in conference play.
When you look further at the stats for these teams, Omaha has played opponents such as Creighton, Duke, Kansas, Colorado, and Kansas State. They were blown out in all but one of those games (Kansas State) while NDSU played Nevada, Nebraska, Creighton, Kansas, and TCU. NDSU almost secured an outright win in Kansas, and it was competitive against all of these teams except for Nebraska, a non-conference matchup in which the opposing Cornhuskers had one of their best shooting nights of the year.
For the opening weekend of the season - in which we saw the normal back-to-back nights of facing the same opponent - both of these teams shot much better and put up much more of their typical stats that will be more similar to conference play throughout the season. Because of this, I believe it has created some value for NDSU and the total. The books do not adjust enough for non-conference play, at least not enough for these games mentioned. When we actually do start conference play, we usually have an edge.
NDSU on defense: is average, ranking #147 on Ken Pom. They are an elite defensive rebounding team, coming in at #16 in the nation. They are #109 at defending the three point shot, #161 at effective FG %, and #57 at sending opponents to the line. For Omaha, their offensive stats stink for the most part, but I don’t worry too much about that. When Omaha played Oral Roberts, it put 83 and 75 points. Edge here to NDSU on the defensive end, especially considering their elite rebounding as a top 20 team in the nation.
NDSU on offense: is ranked #180 overall, as well as #160 on shooting three-pointers, and #62 shooting free throws. Omaha has a lot of red (bad stats) on defense, but again, Omaha has played a brutal schedule so far this season in non-conference play. Omaha did, however, give up 95 and 86 to Oral Roberts, a team which can shoot very well. NDSU has average overall offensive stats despite playing a lot of tough opponents, which shows to me how good this team actually is. Edge again to NDSU on the offensive end.
Bonus Bet: I also like the game total going over 137.5 here. Over these teams' last seven games, using the total of 137.5, the over is 4-3. Going back to 2019, NDSU at home is 8-4 to the over, going over by 7.3 points per game on average. Omaha is also 13-10 to the over on the road, going over by 2 ppg. Since 2018, NDSU is 14-9 to the over while Omaha 21-19 to the over. If you look strictly at conference games since 2019, Omaha is 13-6 to the over (+3.8 ppg) while NDSU is 14-10 to the over (+1.5 ppg). Since 2018 in conference games, Omaha is 23-15 to the over (+3 ppg) while NDSU is 27-16 to the over (+1.4). These are simply two "over teams," and NDSU actually has the ability to get margin on Omaha here. The three different models I have access to has NDSU winning by double digits and another has them by winning by seven. I am not sure why the total is so low, because of the fact that Omaha gave up points to NDSU last year, allowing 86 and 87 points both home and away. My only hypothesis is that the books used Ken Pom's line and has the total at 134, but Ken Pom's model has that tough schedule for both teams in it. I think NDSU wins this game 81-70. This total should be at least 140 for this Summit League conference Friday matchup, and the spread should be NDSU -10. The only thing I fear here is NDSU pulling starters if Omaha gets blown out. Omaha might be a pretty bad team, sure, but it isn’t Western Illinois bad.