Cleveland State Vikings (21-11), +10, o/u 121 @ Butler Bulldogs (28-3), -10, o/u 121, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana, 9 p.m. Eastern, Tuesday
by Oracle of Predictem.com
There is good news and bad news for the Cleveland State Vikings heading into Tuesday night’s Horizon League Championship game.
The bad news is simple: lose and go home.
Nevertheless, there is more bad news. The Vikings will have to beat the nation’s 10th ranked team, the Butler Bulldogs, at Hinkle Fieldhouse in order to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Remember, though, there is good news. Butler has just three total losses on the year. One of them came against you guessed it Cleveland State.
The two teams will face off for the third time this season, with both of them winning on their home court the first two meetings, with the winner going to the Big Dance. There isn’t much pressure on Butler in this game, as they are a virtual lock whether they take the Horizon League title or not. However, there is always pride on the line. Butler has been a perennial power, as they have won four Horizon League titles and want to avenge a loss in the finals last year to Wright State.
These two teams were neck and neck during the regular season. Cleveland State beat Butler back in January, handing them just their second loss of the season, 56-52.
Butler made good of the rematch, winning in yet another low scoring affair, 51-46, at Hinkle Fieldhouse in February. In that game, Butler, who gives up a measly 57.6 points per game, which is good enough for sixth in the nation, held Cleveland State to just 31% shooting.
In the win over Butler, Cleveland State shot 46.7% and had three players finish in double figures including Cedric Jackson (14), J’Nathan Bullock (14) and Joe Davis (13). Bullock leads the Vikings with 14.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
With both games being very competitive, bettors look at an opening line that favors Butler -10 with an over/under of 121. Already that number has dwindled to 119.5 at some online sportsbooks.
Although the Bulldogs seem rather invincible, they do have a significant chink in their armor rebounding.
Cleveland State grabbed more offensive rebounds than Butler in the first two contests and out rebounded them in each game. Butler has struggled as of late, giving up an insane amount of 19 offensive boards in their 66-50 semifinal win over Illinois-Chicago. It doesn’t get any easier for them as Cleveland St. is the second best offensive rebounding team in the Horizon.
The Vikings have helped bettors throughout most of the year, having a 17-11 record ATS. Cleveland St. has a capable offense (67.8 points per game), but the under has come in more than not with a 12-16 over/under mark. The under has come in the last four straight road games for the Vikings.
There are many trends that bettors should take notice of pertaining to Cleveland St. They’re 11-1 ATS after a straight up win and they have covered seven straight games, including their last six Horizon League games.
Butler is 15-13-2 ATS on the year, but have a tough time covering back-to-back games lately with a 1-4-1 record ATS in their last six games after covering.
The under should be a good play for bettors, as it is 6-1 in the last seven head-to-head meetings, including the last five times at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Cleveland State is looking to pull off the upset, a la San Diego in the WCC last night while Butler looks to continue their supremacy in the Horizon.
Oracle’s Pick: The best bet in this game is the UNDER 119.5!