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Free Sports Picks: Howard Hosts Norfolk State in MEAC Affair

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Oskeim Sports breaks down the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game between Howard and Norfolk State.  Oskeim likes Howard plus the points as one of his Free Sports Picks for Monday, February 26.

Be sure to visit Oskeim’s blog on a regular basis for more free sports picks and valueable betting advice.

Howard head coach Kevin Nickleberry’s tenure in the nation’s capital has been defined by untimely injuries.  Nickleberry is about to complete his eighth regular season with the Bisons, who have won six of their last 10 games overall.

Nickleberry’s first responsibility upon arriving on campus was to ensure the graduation of the players he inherited in order to improve the program’s academic standing.

Nickleberry also wanted to attract better talent so that the Bison could compete in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).  While many schools in the MEAC rely on transfers bolster their rosters, Nickleberry has insisted on developing four-year players.

By trying to develop talent from within the program, Nickleberry has been left with several young and inexperienced rosters.  The 2017-18 campaign has been one of those seasons as the Bison’s roster has just one eligible senior and two juniors.

In fact, Howard’s point guard and leading scorer, RJ Cole, arrived on campus over the summer at age 16  and started this season as a 17-year-old freshman. Cole is averaging a team-best 23.8 points per game and has dished out a team-high 175 assists.

Sophomore Charles Williams, who is second on the team in scoring with 19.8 points per game and is a prolific perimeter shooter (40.0% 3-PT%), anchors the frontcourt.  6-7 freshman Zion Cousins joins Williams in the frontcourt and currently leads the team in blocked shots with 29.

Freshman guard Kyle Foster received a lot of praise from his head coach over the summer.  In fact, Nickleberry stated that Foster was one of the top two shooters he had ever coached.  Unfortunately, 6-5 freshman is averaging just 6.4 points per game on 31.3% shooting from the field and 31.8% from beyond the arc.

Howard actually has a decent offense this season, averaging 74.0 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 75.0 points per game to a mediocre offense. The Bison are also averaging 80.5 points per game at home and are making 35.3% of their three-point attempts.

For context, Howard finished last season ranked 343rd nationally with a 29.1 shooting percentage from beyond the arc.  Meanwhile, Norfolk State is 4-12 SU on the road this season where it’s averaging a pathetic 66.4 points per game.

Overall, the Spartans’ offense is 4.4 points per game worse than average (72.7 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 77.1 points per game to a mediocre offense).  Norfolk State is also careless with the basketball, ranking 344th in the nation in turnovers per game (15.8) and 233rd in turnover margin (-0.6).

Technically speaking, Norfolk State is a money-burning 3-7 ATS in its last ten games overall, 2-6 ATS in its last eight games following a win and 1-5 ATS in its last six road affairs.

Finally, my math model only favors Norfolk State by 0.15 points so we are getting excellent line value on the live home underdogs at +3 or more.  Grab the generous points with the Bison as one of Oskeim Sports’ Free Sports Picks for Monday, February 26.

Oskeim’s Free Sports Picks for Monday, February 26:

  • Howard (+4) (-120) over Norfolk State
  • West Virginia (-6.5) over Texas Tech