When people reference “the big game” on Sunday, they are most likely not referring to the Cleveland State Vikings hosting the Youngstown State Penguins, but there is money to be made with big Horizon League implications on the line.
Youngstown State Penguins (-2, 146) vs. Cleveland State Vikings
The Vikings will likely look to slow down the game, ranking 286th among the 363 Division I teams in possessions per game. Cleveland State tends to limit possessions simply by taking care of the basketball.
In road games this season, Cleveland State ranks 24th in the nation in turnovers forced per possession on defense and turns the ball over on just 16.8% of its possessions, good for 86th.
Cleveland State also limits the amount of outside shooting, allowing its opponents to make 31.3% of their shots from 3-point range while on the road, good for 47th in the nation. Meanwhile, on offense, the Vikings make 31.3% of their shots from beyond the arc, good for 312th.
While Youngstown State’s specialty is offense, ranking 5th in points scored on a per-possession basis, the defense has been impressive, allowing 73 points or fewer in regulation in six of the last seven games. The Penguins’ raw defensive numbers are skewed after playing a triple-overtime game against Wright State where the game was 62-62 at the end of regulation but ended with a Youngstown State 91-89 victory.
With Cleveland State’s slow and controlled approach coupled with Youngstown State’s recent improvement on defense, Sunday’s big Horizon League matchup will feature much more defense than expected.
The Play: Youngstown State vs. Cleveland State Under 146
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