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It’s the CBI Tournament here as the Cal State Northridge Matadors take on the Utah Valley Wolverines. Cal State Northridge is coming off a tough loss to UCSB in the Big West Tournament, while Utah Valley is coming off a very successful season. Oddsmakers have the Wolverines as double digit favorites here for this one.
Cal State Northridge’s season ended in disappointing fashion, but they still have plenty to be excited about moving forward. They only went 13-20 this year, but they improved down the stretch and have a bunch of intriguing young talent.
They were very dangerous at the end of the year, and nobody wanted to play them. They’re coming off a last-second very close three point loss to a good UCSB team in the conference tournament. The 13-20 record really doesn’t tell the true story of who this team is. They went 7-9 in conference play in a surprisingly tough Big West, and they have one of the conferences best players in Lamine Diane. Diane was sensational in his first year and became the first player in Big West history to win conference player of the year as a freshman.
Incredible game-tying 3 by Lamine Diane at the buzzer to send this one to OT. Not known for his shooting, the 6-7 Diane has played with tremendous energy all game long. NBA physical profile. pic.twitter.com/gby0XL7coD
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) January 6, 2019
Diane only got better as the year went on, and I expect him to dominate here. They’re a good shooting team, and shoot 36.6% from three as a team. They made backers a ton of money this year, as they’re 19-7-2 against the spread in their last 28 games. Oddsmakers are underestimating the Matadors because of their record, and this one will be a lot closer than people expect.
Utah Valley Comes Up Short
This was a pretty successful season by any reasonable definition for Utah Valley. Just like last year, they were one of the best teams in the WAC and very good overall, but just like last year, they came up short in the conference tournament. They had a very real shot to make it to the NCAA Tournament but got upset by Grand Canyon in the conference semis. They finished within the top 100 in Kenpom, but I’m worried for them here. They were so good in the regular season, that I’m worried they won’t have much motivation for a CBI game here. In a postseason game that isn’t the NCAA’s or even the NIT, motivation is the most important factor. Northridge is a gritty young team who lives for an opportunity like this, while the Wolverines are just disappointed not to be playing for something more significant.
Utah Valley is very much an offensive team and needs their outside shot to be falling for them to be effective. If they don’t have their legs under them here or aren’t giving it 100 percent, they’re going to be on upset alert. This Matadors team is peaking at the exact wrong time for Utah Valley to be facing them, and I don’t see a double-digit victory for the Wolverines here. Their defense won’t be able to hold up well enough against Diane and the Matadors attack for them to cover this hefty spread.
- 9-4 in Wolverines last 13 home games
- 7-3 in Wolverines last 10 home games vs. a team with a losing road record
- 5-2 in Wolverines last 7 non-conference games
- 6-2 in Wolverines last 8 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of less than .400
- 19-7-2 ATS in their last 28 games overall.
- 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 road games
- 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 road games vs. a team with a winning home record
- 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I love the Matadors here. They were playing really good ball down the stretch, while Utah Valley won’t be that motivated in a spot they aren’t dying to be in. Northridge will be coming out more fired up, and will keep this one very close. I’m even dabbling in some Northridge moneyline at +540.
Prediction: Cal State Northridge +11.5
Full-Game Total Pick
I also like the over here. Utah Valley doesn’t have much of a defense, and Northridge’s defense was the worst in the conference this past year. This should be a total shootout, and since this game doesn’t mean all that much, I don’t think either side will be locked in defensively. There should be a ton of points.