Horizon League Championship Game Odds: Northern Kentucky Favored Over UIC

Northern Kentucky Norse
No. 2 seed Northern Kentucky is looking to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years. Photo by @NKUNorseMBB (Twitter).
  • Northern Kentucky is a 5-point favorite vs UIC in the Horizon League title game on Tuesday (March 10, 7 pm ET)
  • UIC upset top seed Wright State in the semifinals, while Northern Kentucky knocked off Green Bay
  • Read below for our betting preview and prediction

The Horizon League final is set for Tuesday (March 10, 7 pm ET) at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis, but it’s not the matchup most people expected. That’s because No. 4 seed UIC (18-16) pulled off a big upset in the semifinals, knocking off top-seed Wright State (25-7) as a 6-point underdog.

The Flames will be getting points once again in the final, this time against No. 2 seed and defending champion Northern Kentucky (22-9). The Norse are fresh off an 80-69 win in the other semi as a 5-point favorite over Green Bay (17-16).

UIC Flames vs Northern Kentucky Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total at BetOnline
UIC Flames +5 (-115) +165 Over 125.5 (+100)
Northern Kentucky Norse -5 (-105) -190 Under 125.5 (-120)

Odds taken March 10th

Tuesday’s final will be UIC’s fourth game of the tournament, after defeating IUPUI in the first round, Youngstown State in the quarters, and the Raiders last night.

Horizon League Tournament Bracket

Experience Pays Off for Flames

UIC’s 73-56 win over Wright State comes nearly a month after they lost by 17 to the Raiders. Tarkus Ferguson did the majority of the offensive damage, pouring in 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting. The senior guard led the team in scoring during the regular season, and after putting up just 6 points in the quarterfinals, exploded for his highest output of the year.

Ferguson is one of four senior starters on the most experienced team in the Horizon League. Despite a strong cast of veterans, they were +1000 to win the conference before the tournament tipped off, but are now just a win away from their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2004.

They held Wright State to 26 points below its season average and under 60 points for the first time in the entire 2019-20 campaign. They limited them to 28.3% from the field, after holding Youngstown State to 36.9% in the quarters, and IUPUI to 30.5% in the first round. With their season on the line, their defense has stepped in a major way, much like they did in their last meeting with Northern Kentucky.

Norse No Match for Flames Last Time Out

The Flames blew out the Norse in their own building by 30 points just three weeks ago. They held Northern Kentucky to a season-low 43 points on just 22% shooting, while three UIC players scored in double-figures, led by Ferguson’s 14.

That loss was one of two in Northern Kentucky’s final four regular season contests, but the Norse looked like a completely different team on Monday versus Green Bay.

Jalen Tate led the Northern Kentucky attack with 23 points, 6 boards and 3 assists. He was one of three Norse players to score in double-figures, and has scored 16 or more in six of his last seven outings, with the one exception coming against UIC.

Northern Kentucky’s conference best defense limited Green Bay to 13 points below its season average, and held the Phoenix to just 37% from the floor.

They’re one win away from advancing to March Madness for the third time in four years, but this Flames team they’re about to face is oozing with confidence right now.

Can the Flames Stay Red-Hot?

After three straight tournament wins, plus a blowout victory over this Northern Kentucky team just a few weeks ago, I like UIC to stay hot and advance to the NCAA Tournament.

Granted, they’ll be an extreme long shot if they get matched up with a top 2020 National Championship odds contender once they get there, but they do have the ingredients for a Cinderella run. They’re loaded with experience, feature three solid guards and play tough defense.

Their magical run will continue Tuesday with another upset win over the Norse.

Pick: UIC +5 (-115)

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