If you love betting underdogs, then last Saturday's MAC action was sure to have been a profitable day for you. Five of the seven games were won straight up by underdogs, with Eastern Michigan getting the best win as 7.5-point dogs against Ohio. Miami-Ohio was the only underdog to cover the spread and not win. The lone winning favorite was Western Michigan as they snuck by Kent State by a score of 92-88. This is only part of the reason why the MAC conference can be very profitable for bettors who do their due diligence before writing off a conference and labeling it as bad basketball.
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Tomorrow's "MACtion" features six games on the card . The game I have circled is the Central Michigan vs. Ball State (-3) contest. Both teams come in on a winning note, but one team has impressed me much more than the other. Keep reading to find out who I like. The rest of the schedule shapes up like this; Ohio travels to Akron to tangle with the Zips (OTB), Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan (OTB) face off in an in-state rivalry game, Buffalo takes on Kent State (-4.5), Bowling Green travels to Toledo (-9) and Miami-Ohio goes up against Northern Illinois (-9.5) If last Saturday's underdog trend continues, we could be in for another profitable week.
Moving forward on a weekly basis, I will be breaking down the full MAC slate. Game days are Tuesdays and Saturdays, so there will be plenty of time in between games to digest the results and regroup and fire off some more winners. I'll be focusing on key matchups, teams trending up or down, best ATS squad, letdown spots, live underdogs and lots of picks and predictions. This conference has been kind to me over the years, and I believe it's one of the most underrated conferences to bet on.
All odds are courtesy of BetOnline
Biggest Letdown Spot
Central Michigan Chippewas (11-6, 1-3) @ Ball State Cardinals (11-6, 2-2)
The Chippewas come into this game on the heels of a solid home win last Friday against a pretty good Toledo squad. The Chipps led from tip off and never relinquished the lead. They turned an 11-0 run to open the game into a 45-35 half time lead. The Rockets cut the lead to just two points (58-56) midway through the second half but could never take the lead. The Chipps were led by Braylon Rayson who scored 28 points on 10 of 19 shooting, with four triples. Marcus Keene chipped in with 20 points of his own, and the Chips had four players score in double figures.
This was a huge win for a Chippewas squad that needed to break their conference goose-egg. They now sit at 1-3 in the conference and need to string together some wins if they have any hopes of getting back near the top of the standings. The problem for the Chipps is that they are a very poor defensive squad. They have allowed more than 83 points in all four conference games, and their next opponent is a team that can put up plenty of points.
Ball State comes into this game winners of two in a row after their 92-77 win over the reigning MAC Champion Buffalo Bulls. The Cardinals opened up a nine-point halftime lead and never looked back. They were led in scoring by Tayler Persons, who scored 17 and had six helpers. He was one of three players to score 17 points, along with Ryan Weber and Jeremie Tyler. In total, six Cardinals scored in double figures. As a team, Ball State is averaging 84 points per game in four conference games and should be able to reach, if not exceed, that against a shaky Chippewas' defense.
The letdown for the Chipps is fairly straightforward. They just had a solid home win against a team who was leading the conference, but now they must go on the road to face a team that is playing great basketball and has a solid record on home court (6-3). In conference play, I always tend to stay away from road teams with questionable half-court defense. The Chipps momentum will be short lived, and they will be looking at 1-4 after this game.
Pick: Ball State, -3 -110
Northern Illinois - The Huskies are currently riding a three-game winning streak , which has vaulted them atop the MAC West. Last week I gave you Northern Illinois plus the points on the road against Kent State. I cited the law of averages regarding the Huskies poor shooting performance and the amount of points they put up. I wasn't wrong. The Huskies put up 74 points and continued to shoot the ball poorly. They still snuck out of Kent, Ohio, with a win. They followed that game up with a 17-point road win against Bowling Green as one-point underdogs. The Huskies shot just 42 percent from the field but held Bowling Green to just 39 percent. The Huskies have a favorable matchup on deck against a Miami-Ohio team that is winless on the road. I will confidently be laying the points with the Huskies in that game.
Akron - The Zips are currently riding a seven-game winning streak, including four consecutive wins in conference play. They are coming off a tough win against a Miami-Ohio team that plays well on their home court. The Zips have won back-to-back road games, and now they get their toughest test to date - a home game against the second-place Ohio Bobcats. The Zips should be able to handle their business against a Bobcats' team that put up just 49 points in their last game. Lay the points with the Zips.
Kent State - The Golden Flashes were sitting pretty at 9-5 and 1-0 in conference play until they met Ohio on Jan. 6. They were blown out in that game and have not been able to recover. They are currently on a three-game losing streak after losing to Northern Illinois and Western Michigan last week. The downfall during the streak has been the offense. They shot just 37 percent against Ohio and 40 percent against the Huskies. In their last game against the Broncos they shot 62 percent. Most teams would kill to shoot 62 percent from the floor, but that number was brought up after a 75 percent shooting performance in the second half. Their undoing was a poor start and inability to make stops on the defensive end. Kent State has tough sledding ahead of them with games against Buffalo, Toledo and Northern Illinois. A three-game losing streak could spiral into five or six if they aren't careful.
Miami-Ohio - The Redhawks are currently on a three-game losing streak and sit below .500 for the season. They have lost consecutive games to Toledo, Ball State and Akron and have failed to score more than 76 points in those games. They have a tough trip ahead of them this week with stops at Northern Illinois and Central Michigan. The Redhawks are 0-6 on the road this season and they will very likely by 0-8 by this time next week. The Redhawks don't have the scoring to keep up with some of the better offensive teams in the conference, which means they need to be perfect on the defensive side of the court.
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