College basketball’s major conference tournaments begin this week, but there are two Horizon League semifinal matchups on Monday and both of the league’s top regular-season teams, Wright State and Northern Kentucky, are solid Mybookie favorites to win and advance to a potentially terrific championship game Tuesday. WSU was the regular-season champion and NKU second. Here’s a look at both semifinals and their College Basketball Odds.
Top College Basketball Betting Picks of the Week: Horizon League semifinals
UIC vs. Wright State
- When: Monday, 7 PM ET (ESPNU)
- Where: Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Indianapolis
- Odds: Wright State -6 (total 148.5)
As noted above Wright State (25-6) was the outright regular-season champion of the Horizon League, for the first time in school history, which got the Shockers a double-bye into the conference tournament semifinals on Monday.
Don’t sleep on the Raiders as a first-round NCAA Tournament team that could pull an upset if they get there. They have a guy who could start for any power conference school in Horizon League Player of the Year Loudon Love. He leads the Raiders with a 16.3 points per game scoring average and finished the regular season just shy of averaging a double-double with his 9.7 rebounds per game mark. His 872 career rebounds are second all-time in Wright State program history, while his 9.2 rebounds per game career average is on pace to break the Wright State career rebounds per game average record.
Fourth-seeded UIC (17-16) comes off a 67-61 win over Youngstown State on Thursday in the conference quarterfinals. Michael Diggins paced the Flames with 17 points, while Tarkus Ferguson hauled in a career-high 13 rebounds. UIC was aided by 18 second-chance points on the strength of 18 offensive rebounds. UIC improved to 15-4 on the year when outrebounding its opponent, finishing +13 on the glass (49-36). This marks the first semifinal appearance for UIC in the Horizon League Tournament since 2017.
UIC did win one of two meetings vs. Wright State this season, upsetting the Raiders 76-72 in Chicago on Jan. 12. Michael Diggins scored 20 points and Marcus Ottey made two free throws with 11 seconds left to clinch it. The Flames sank 15 of 18 foul shots. Wright State shot 36% from the floor and 29% from distance.
Green Bay vs. Northern Kentucky
- When: Monday, 9:30 PM ET (ESPN2)
- Where: Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Indianapolis
- Odds: Northern Kentucky -4.5 (total 150.5)
Northern Kentucky had a chance to share the Horizon League regular-season title with a home win in the finale against Wright State, but the Norse (21-9) lost 64-62. Love finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Raiders, his 11th double-double of the year. Cole Gentry scored 12 points, hitting two free throws with 12 seconds remaining to make it a two-possession game. Jalen Tate came off the bench to score 24 points and grab nine rebounds for the Norse. Northern Kentucky shot only 34% overall, 18.5% from distance (5 of 27) and made 15 of 22 foul shots (68%).
Dantez Walton is NKU’s star, leading the Norse in scoring (16.3 ppg) and rebounding (7.0 rpg). He has posted three 30-point games this year, including two 30-point double-doubles. Walton has 979 career points and ranks 31st all-time at NKU in scoring. In addition, NKU’s Jalen Tate was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year.
The Norse boast one of the best defenses in the Horizon League as they are tops in scoring defense, second in opponent field goal percentage and third in 3-point field goal percentage defense during league play. By Monday, the Norse will have played just one game in 15 days.
Green Bay (17-15) advanced to the semifinals Thursday with a 78-63 win over Oakland. The win was Green Bay’s seventh in its last nine games and earned the third-seeded Phoenix their third conference semifinal trip in the last five seasons under head coach Linc Darner. It was a tale of two halves, with GB outscoring Oakland 48-33, dictating the pace of the game. GB also outrebounded the Golden Grizzlies 24-11 in the second half, and finished the game with 46 points in the paint and 19 fastbreak points.
The Phoenix’s star is Horizon League Freshman of the Year Amari Davis. He had 19 points with 6 rebounds. Davis now sits seven points away from breaking Tony Bennett’s program record for freshman scoring with 516 points, a record that has stood since 1988-89.
Green Bay is the fourth-highest scoring team in the nation at 82.2 ppg. All-League first team selection JayQuan McCloud finished fourth during conference play at 18.7 points per game.
Green Bay did knock off Northern Kentucky once this season, 73-59 in Kentucky in late December. NKU won the most recent meeting in Green Bay.
College Basketball Horizon League Semifinals Expert Picks
The two top seeds will be rusty and perhaps looking ahead to each other. Take both underdogs to cover.