The Cleveland State Vikings are the top seed and favorite to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009 when they take on the No. 3 seed Oakland Grizzlies at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis on Tuesday night in the Horizon League Championship Game.
Cleveland State (18-7, 16-4 Horizon) defends better than they score, including holding opponents to just 30.9% from three-point range. They opened conference play 9-0 before dropping the back end of a doubleheader with No. 2 seed Wright State, and certainly aren’t playing their best basketball in the tournament; the Mastodons of Purdue-Fort Wayne took them to triple OT before falling 108-104 in the quarterfinals, and upstart No. 8 seed Milwaukee pushed them hard before losing 71-65 in the semis, just running out of gas after their dramatic comeback against Wright State the night before.
Craig Beaudion is their best shooter at a hair over 40% from downtown, but this is a team of post players in a smaller league, with Tre Gomillion leading the way on the block.
Oakland was 0-9 on Christmas day, but has turned that around to a 12-17 mark, 10-10 in the Horizon. They truly struggle defensively, allowing an eFG from opponents of 55.5%, and conceding an offensive rebound on one-third of misses. But they move the ball well offensively, and held a good No. 4 seed Northern Kentucky team below their averages in a 69-58 win in the semifinals.
Jalen Moore makes them go with 8.5 assists to be No. 1 in the category in all of Division I. He also adds 17.8 points per game, and the 5’11 junior is amongst the nation’s leaders in percentage of minutes played. It’s like he goes all 40 tonight, as he has yet to take a seat during the Horizon Tournament.
Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming
You can watch No. 3 seed Oakland vs. No. 1 seed Cleveland State on Tuesday, March 9 at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN. or you can stream it via the ESPN app with a cable or streaming service login. If you don’t have a cable login to access the ESPN app, you can get a free trial from YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, AT&T TV Now, FuboTV, or Sling TV to stream it.
Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends
Point spread: Cleveland State -2.5
Point Total: 140.5
Moneyline: Oakland +120, Cleveland State -143
The Best Bet
One team is just in form and playing better than the other, and they’re getting points here. Moore is a phenomenal athlete and might be the best player on the floor. When a do-everything point guard is the best player and in-form (23.5 ppg, 9.0 apg in the tournament), take the points and hope he keeps it going.
The Pick: Oakland +2.5
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