The Horizon League Tournament Semifinals tip off on Monday with the UW Milwaukee Panthers and Cleveland State Vikings hooking up in Indianapolis after UW Milwaukee took both games in the regular season series.
Cleveland State Vikings (-3, 148) vs. UW Milwaukee Panthers
Outside shooting was the undoing of Cleveland State in the regular season series, with the Vikings going a combined 7-of-38 from 3-point range across the two losses. Overall, Cleveland State is 343rd in the country in 3-point shooting percentage away from home at 29.1%.
The Vikings will try to offset their outside shooting issues by generating turnovers as UW Milwaukee is 346th in the country in possessions that end in a turnover while Cleveland State ranks 17th nationally in turnovers forced on a per-possession basis in games away from home.
Between the two regular season games, Cleveland State committed seven fewer turnovers than UW Milwaukee but the Panthers grabbed seven more rebounds in the two games and make up for not having one specific player that averages more than 5.2 rebounds per game with five of their top six scorers all pulling in at least 4.3 rebounds per game.
While both teams have issues with allowing opponents to grab offensive rebounds, Cleveland State ranks lower in this category, allowing opponents to grab 34.4% of their missed shots in games away from home, which ranks 355th out of the 363 Division I teams.
The most dominant scorer in the game is also on UW Milwaukee’s side as BJ Freeman enters Monday averaging 17.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and three assists per game. However, in the team’s 13-5 run since New Year’s Eve, Freeman has been on another level.
Freeman is averaging 21.9 points, six rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game on 36.1% 3-point shooting while attempting 8.2 3-pointers per game the past 18 games, including 55 points on 8-of-17 3-point shooting in the two games against Cleveland State.
The narrative of “it’s hard to beat a team three times in a season” is greatly overused. From 2010-19, according to data collected by Jordan Sperber, the team that was 2-0 in the first two matchups went 856-338 in the third matchup, a winning percentage of 72% and UW Milwaukee will be the latest to pull off an in-season hat trick.
The Play: UW Milwaukee Moneyline +130
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