Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 12:00 PM EST.
Oakland +4 over DETROIT MERCY
4:00 PM EST. Mike Davis has now been in Detroit for two years, and the progress desired by the administration after hiring the once-exiled skipper has yet to materialize. Whether that’s been due to an inability to find the players necessary to vault up the Horizon pecking order, shaky locker room chemistry or other reasons entirely is a matter of debate, but more clear is this -- ranking outside the top 300 is an unacceptable outcome for a school that fired Ray McCallum for much less.
You need to know two specific things about this squad. First, Detroit led the entire country in isolation possessions last year, with over 15% of shots/turnovers coming via that route as Antoine Davis enjoyed almost appalling levels of freedom. Second, defense didn’t matter, with Mike Davis sitting his guys in a porous zone over 60% of the time. Some zones are designed to make life difficult for an opponent. Detroit’s seemed only designed to make life easy on its own defenders. There’s little reason to expect those two key factors to change much. This team is loaded with guys that will launch shameless triples whenever they cross half court, even if it's 5-on-3.
Detroit is often an enjoyable watch but they don’t stop anyone, and Antoine Davis can do some ludicrous things on the offensive end. That’s translated to a 19-43 record, though, so the winning has lagged far behind the entertainment factor. The Titans are 1-5 this year with some credible losses like their seven-point loss to Michigan State for instance but these top programs do not get fired up to play bottom feeders and often the underdog makes it much closer than it should be.
Greg Kampe currently finds his Oakland Golden Grizzlies program in something of a lull. Oakland’s KenPom ranking has declined in four consecutive seasons, and the team’s league record dipped below .500 last year for only the second time since 2006. Having captained the Golden Grizz ship since 1984, this is certainly not the first rut Kampe has found himself in, and time and again he’s re-elevated the program back to the top of the conference, so odds are the 64-year-old will once again reverse Oakland’s course. The question, though, is whether that turnaround will be immediate or a gradual build.
Oakland is 0-9 this year. That misleading record is the reason we’re being offered points here. What the record does not reveal is that the Grizzlies have played the 7th ranked Strength of Schedule in the country with losses to Xavier, Michigan, Michigan State, Bradley, Purdue and Oklahoma State among others. Oakland has a star in Rashad Williams and should return to Kampe’s up-and-down, attacking tempo, but the Golden Grizzlies will be reliant on young and inexperienced players at multiple positions, meaning their results could be up-and-down, as well. Don’t expect Oakland to challenge Wright State for the regular season title, but the Grizz can beat almost anyone when Williams is hot, and Kampe should mold them into a formidable foe. This is an extremely winnable game and this experienced coach, that brings consistency and stabilization to the program, figures to have his guys better prepared than Detroit’s guys.
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Oakland +4 -103 (Risking 2.06 units - To Win: 2.00)