Northern Kentucky Norse vs. Oakland Golden Grizzlies – NCAAB, March 8, 2021

By Dean McHugh in College Basketball
| March 8, 2021 12:11 pm PDT

A spot in the Horizon championship game is up for grabs tonight as Northern Kentucky and Oakland face off at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.

The Golden Grizzlies will be confident of securing a place in the final, given they have beaten the Norse on the previous four occasions that they have met. However, they haven’t always had things their own way in Oakland, and the two teams have alternated wins over the previous five games, which would make it Oakland’s turn to win tonight.

Norse vs. Golden Grizzlies Odds

Norse -1.5-110
Golden Grizzlies +1.5-110
Norse To Win-124
Golden Grizzlies To Win+106
Over 148.5 Points-110
Under 148.5 Points-110 

The betting for this one is much closer than I anticipated as I thought the Norse would have to give at least a four-point lead tonight. The total points look bang on and would be hard to take on either way, given they have a combined average of 147 points over the previous ten encounters between them.

Norse News

The Norse come into this game in excellent form, having only lost one of their previous seven games in regular time. They had a fine one-point win over third-placed Detroit last time out, which has set up tonight’s game for them to win the Horizon championship potentially. They pulled off the win despite Detroit finishing with some superb shooting statistics of 51% from field goal range and 41% from three-point range. They also recently beat top-of-the-table Wright State, so they should be full of confidence here.

The only slight downside to their season has been their away form which currently stands at 5-6. However, there is the added incentive of finishing the season without having a negative record on the road. Again, there is every reason to be confident that this will happen, given they have won five of their previous six away fixtures. Their only loss came in overtime which shows that their form on the road has improved rapidly.

Here are the latest betting trends for Northern Kentucky:

  • They have six of their previous seven games against the spread.
  • Eight of their last 11 matches have gone over the betting total.
  • The Norse have only lost two of their previous 11 games.
  • Northern Kentucky is 3-7 against the spread in their previous ten encounters with the Golden Grizzlies.
  • They have an excellent record of seven wins from eight games in March.
  • All of their last five games played on a Monday have gone under the points total.
  • The Norse have won 15 of their previous 20 matches that they entered as the betting favorite.

Northern Kentucky has an offense that is average at best. They are decent at shooting from close with a field goal percentage of 45% but anything from further they have struggled with.

They are rebounding well in attack, averaging ten offensive rebounds per game. This has mostly been down to the aerial skills of Adrian Nelson, who certainly knows how to rebound.

However, their passing has been dreadful on many occasions this season, especially the early part. Therefore, they seemed to change their game plan halfway through and are now driving the ball to the basket more often, which appears to be working given their improved record recently.

Their defense is weak, and they are poor at covering their opponents, leading to many easy baskets against them. This, combined with the worst defensive rebounding figures in the league, can result in a comfortable night for opposing offenses.

They aren’t making many blocks each night either, averaging a Conference low of 1.6 per game.

Despite their struggles in attack, Trevon Faulkner has been the one consistent performer, and Trevon knows all about struggles himself, having endured a tough time growing up. However, he didn’t let that define him, and he has risen through adversity to become one of the top performers for the Norse this season. Faulkner, along with Warrick and Bohm, has accounted for 56% of Northern Kentucky’s points this season, so they will need him on point tonight if they are to progress to the final.

The Norse have no listed absentees for the game tonight.

Golden Grizzlies News

The Golden Grizzlies also come into this semi-final matchup in good form, having won three of their previous four games. They have been involved in some very tight clashes as of late, with three of their last five matches going into overtime. They lost two of those games, but they won the most recent, which was their last game against Youngstown State. The game was back and forth all the way, and the teams couldn’t be separated at the end of regular time. However, the Grizzlies made the third-time lucky by claiming an 87-83 victory.

Coincidentally Oakland has precisely the same home record as Northern Kentucky does on the road this season. The win against Youngtown State last time out ended a run of three straight defeats. It must be highlighted that the losses did come against Detroit and Cleveland State, who are both outstanding teams.

Here are the latest betting trends for Oakland:

  • Their previous eight games have all gone over the betting total.
  • Seven of their last ten matches against the Norse have gone under the points total.
  • They have only lost two of their previous six games against the spread that have been played in March.
  • Oakland is 3-6 against the spread in their last nine games played on a Monday.
  • They have a poor record playing as the underdogs winning only five of their previous 18 games as the betting outsider.
  • The Golden Grizzlies have only lost three of their last 15 matches played at home on a Monday night.

Despite a low field goal percentage of only 41%, the Grizzlies have a terrific attack this season that has averaged 75 points per game. They make plenty of points shooting from deep; however, that doesn’t mean to say they are brilliant at it. Oakland has also made plenty of free-throws this season, again despite a low free-throw success rate. This suggests that they are often fouled and perhaps have drawing fouls down to an art.

They will have to achieve near their point average tonight if they are to stand any chance of making the finals as they have lost all 11 games where they have scored 73 points or less this season.

Unlike their opponents tonight, they do move the ball well and make many assists per game.

However, their defense is amongst the worst in the country, conceding on average a whopping 82 points per game.

Because of their poor defense, they have the worst point per game difference in the conference of -7!

However, they are exceptionally good at winning the ball back and have made a conference high 8.5 steals per game on average. This is key for them as it’s about the only good thing they do defensively.

They don’t tend to make too many fouls which I would usually say is a good thing, but given they lack bite in defense, I will see this as a negative and expect more aggression.

If the Grizzlies are going to stand any chance of winning tonight, then their talisman Jalen Moore will have to play well; it’s as simple as that. Moore leads most of the rankings for Oakland this season, and they will require much the same tonight to prevail. He has made or assisted on 54% of all Oakland’s field goals over the previous three games.

Oakland also has no injury concerns here, so neither team can have any excuses.

Norse vs. Golden Grizzlies Pick

  • Norse -1.5

In all truth, this is a reasonably weak semi-final, and whoever faces the winner of this in the final will undoubtedly fancy their chances of winning. Neither team blow me away when I look at their line-ups or statistics, so I will solely place my faith in the form of each team and go with the Norse to win this one. Their wins over Detroit and Wright state recently have impressed me and can’t be ignored.



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