Call it a winning Saturday! Were it not for Tommy's pick against my Cardinals we would've made it a clean sweep at 4-0 for the day. I can't hate on him though, Ball State shocked everyone simply by keeping the game competitive. A split of Sunday's games and we can call it, SHOCK, a winning weekend. If that happens, GET USED TO IT. We're drawing nearer to March, it's time to put together a winning streak. It has happened before. Your February 9th picks:
Western Michigan (-3.5) at Northern Illinois
Huge win last Wednesday for the Broncos over Ohio. Knotted up at 57 with 9 minutes remaining, Western went on a 17-4 run to put the Bobcats away. The Broncos got 22 from Austin Richie, 20 from David Brown, and 18 a piece from Shayne Whittington and Connar Tava. It was the Broncos fourth win in five games, and they enter Sunday's matchup 6-3 in the MAC West behind division leader Toledo. Western netted a home win against the Rockets 87-76 on January 8th, and will travel to Toledo on March 1st.
The win against Ohio marked just the second time in the last five games Western Michigan has covered the spread. Two of those games the Broncos were favorites, and failed to cover. January 26th the Broncos were laying 13 against Ball State and came away 62-53 winners. February 1st WMU narrowly avoided an upset at the hands of Central Michigan, winning 75-72, failing to cover the 8.5 points they were laying. For the season the Broncos are 4-5 against the spread when playing on the road. Western Michigan has won eight straight against Northern Illinois, dating back to February of 2010.
SOMEBODY BREAK UP THE HUSKIES. Northern Illinois is rolling! They were just finding their footing when losing four straight. Today's Huskies are winners of three in a row, most recently knocking off Miami 53-41 on February 4th. NIU has been doing it with defense. They give up under 64 points a game, and have the second stingiest defense in the conference. 4-5 in the MAC West and playing markedly better than division bottom feeders Ball State and Central Michigan can certainly be looked at as a positive season for the Huskies thus far.
Northern has been a more attractive product to bettors than the Broncos. NIU has played underdog the last five games and covered in four of them. With that said, the Huskies are considerably better ATS when playing on the road than when playing in DeKalb. At home NIU is just 2-7 ATS. When playing on the road they're 7-3. The game opened at 4.5. That the spread was so scant to begin with, and has now moved to 3.5, is a testament to how well the Huskies are playing. They don't score a lot of points, but are relentless defensively, and will look to disrupt a Western Michigan offense that's clicking.
The pick: Despite Northern's impressive numbers ATS recently, I'm going with the Broncos. Winning the West is still very much a possibility. Western's balanced offense will stretch NIU's defense thin, and with a road game against Akron on the horizon, as well as the rematch with Toledo, WMU call ill afford to drop this one. Sunday take Western, lay the points.
Akron (-2) at Bowling Green
Akron is still in the driver's seat in the MAC East, though both Buffalo and Ohio remain in hot pursuit. The last time out the Zips squeezed by Eastern Michigna 52-48. It wasn't until there were just 42 seconds remaining that Akron took their first lead of the game. It was the fourth win in the last five games for the Zips, the one blemish a 60-57 setback at Kent State on February 1st. With both the Bobcats and Buffalo playing at such a high level, and showing no signs of cooling off (see Ohio's comeback over Miami) this is a game Akron needs to maintain control in the East.
Akron has covered three times ATS in the last five games and played to a push in the Kent State game (good job Vegas.) ATS on the road this season, the Zips are 4-5. Most impressive is the dominance Akron's had recently over Bowling Green. The Zips have run off nine consecutive wins. Bowling Green hasn't knocked off Akron since earning a 50-46 road victory in March of 2009. Akron's also covered ATS the last three games against the Falcons and four of the last five.
Bowling Green has hit a bit of a skid recently. The Falcons strung together three consecutive wins beginning on January 15th, culminating with an impressive 58-56 win over Ohio on January 22nd. Since the BGSU has fallen on hard times. They've lost three of four, though they were competitive against Toledo on February 5th, an 83-76 road loss. The Rockets rushed out to an 11-0 lead to open the game, but the Falcons actually closed to within two in the second half. There's certainly plenty of talent on this Falcons squad, and a win over Akron could reverse their slow descent towards the bottom of the MAC East.
Bowling Green for the season is 11-10 ATS, They're slightly better on the road, 6-3, than at home, 4-5. Despite the loss to Toledo, the Falcons covered the 11 they were getting. The game against the Rockets was the third time in the last five games that BGSU covered ATS. Bowling Green has managed to covered just 3 times in the last 10 matchups against the Zips, and this game marks the smallest spread in the series since Akron was favored by a point and a half as road favorites in January of 2012.
The pick: We're going with a pair of road favorites here. I actually think Akron is slipping, and that Ohio will eventually catch them in the MAC East. This won't be the game that trips up the Zips though. Maybe February 12th at Western Michigan? I'll leave that to Tommy. Sunday, take the Zips, lay the 2.