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Akron vs. Cleveland State - 11/11/17 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Cleveland State Vikings (0-0) at Akron Zips (0-0)

College Basketball: Saturday, November 11, 2017 at 7:00 pm (James A. Rhodes Arena)

The Line: Akron Zips -8 -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds

TV: ESPN3

The Horizon League and the MAC duke it out on the hardwood in some non-conference college basketball action as the Cleveland State Vikings take on the Akron Zips on Saturday evening.

The Cleveland State Vikings will try to bounce back after finishing the 2016-17 campaign 9-23 with a 5-13 conference record, resulting in the 9th seed and a first round loss to Youngstown State as a result. The Vikings will be dealt a blow under new head coach Dennis Felton, as leading scorer from last season Rob Edwards (16.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg) transferred to Arizona State and third leading scorer Demonte Flannigan (11.1 ppg) graduated. Expected to lead the charge for Cleveland State will be Bobby Word and sophomore starting point guard Kasheem Thomas. Word averaged 11.1 points per game last season, while Thomas put up 7.7 points per game in starting all 31 regular season games. The concern for Thomas is his inability to knock down the 3-pointer last season, shooting 30.2% from behind the arc when long-range shooting is his forte. The Vikings will need it if they are to improve on their offense that finished near the bottom of the country with 67.2 points per game on 40.5% shooting from the floor and 30.9% from behind the arc last season. Things weren’t as bad for Cleveland defensively, giving up 71.7 points per game on 45.8% shooting from the field and 35% from 3-point range.

Akron vs. Cleveland State - 11/11/17 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

USA TODAY Sports

The Akron Zips will look to carry over their success from last season, finishing the year 27-9 with a 14-4 record in conference play to win the MAC East and the MAC regular season championship. The Zips took down Eastern Michigan and Ball State before losing the championship game for the second consecutive season, this time to Kent State. AS a regular season conference champion who failed to win their conference tournament, the Zips made the NIT, defeating Houston in the first round before falling to UT-Arlington. The challenge comes right out of the gate for new head coach John Groce, as 4 of the Zips’ five starters from last season aren’t with the team for this go around. Isaiah Johnson (16.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.9 apg) and Kwan Cheatham (11 ppg, 7.2 rpg) both graduated while Antino Jackson and Noah Robotham transferred to New Mexico and UNLV respectively. Luckily, the Zips were able to retain the services of junior guard Jimond Ivey, who logged 10.2 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game while shooting 52% from the field last season. Ivey will be a key to this lineup as the Zips bring in 9 new faces for this year’s team that will try to replicate the success from last year’s squad.

Cleveland State is 1-4 ATS in their lat 5 games overall and 3-14-2 ATS in their last 19 road games. Akron is 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games while the under is 5-1 in their last 6 games overall. Akron is 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings between these two teams.

I know Akron has had the bulk of the success ATS in this matchup and the Vikings have done nothing on the road, covering in just 3 of their last 19 road games. However, I think Akron lost a lot more talent than the Vikings did and it will take some getting used to in terms of figuring out exactly what the Zips have to work with this season. I’ll take the points with Cleveland State as more of a fade from the unknown with Akron here.

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