The Oakland Golden Grizzlies will host the Toledo Rockets in an early season contest Friday night from the Athletics Center in Oakland, MI. The Rockets went 23-11 with a 13-5 conference record last season, while the Golden Grizzlies posted a 19-14 record with a 10-8 mark in conference action. Toledo registered an 87-74 home win over Oakland in November of last season.
Rockets Primed for Another Big Season
The Toledo Rockets head into the season with high expectations after finishing first in the MAC West last season, followed by a loss to Buffalo in the MAC Tournament championship game. They lost star player Tre-Shaun Fletcher (18.1PPG, 8 RPG), however, they return a good portion of their roster. The Rockets return three players that averaged double-digits in points which includes Jaelan Sanford. The senior guard had a stellar 2017-2018 season, finishing second in team scoring with 16.3 points, and he shot a terrific 40% from beyond the arc. Toledo also returns Luke Knapke. The 6-foot-11 junior center brings both offense and defense to the table, and last year he averaged 10.8 points on a 55% field goal efficiency to go with 6.3 rebounds per game. The Rockets also feature the talented Nate Navigato who averaged 12.2 points, and he led the Rockets with a 42% clip from three-point range.
Get your 🗓️ out! Our men's hoops schedule is finalized with today's MAC release of the league games. Get ready for a great season in Savage Arena! pic.twitter.com/Ypxk3i3ZmM
— Toledo M Basketball (@ToledoMBB) August 1, 2018
Toledo was selected to finish third in the MAC West behind Eastern Michigan and Toledo, and fourth out of the 12 team MAC conference. The Rockets were strong offensively last season. They averaged 79 points, ranking them 56th overall, and scoring should be a strength again this year. Toledo allowed an average of 74.5 points last season, pegging them 232nd overall.
Oakland Heads Into Season with Different Look
The Oakland Golden Grizzlies will have a different look this season. They will have a huge scoring void to fill with the departure of their top three scorers in Kendrick Nunn, Jalen Hayes, and Martez Walker who all averaged at least 17 points last season. The Grizzlies brought in Karmari Newman on a transfer from George Mason, and he is expected to make an immediate impact. The sophomore guard averaged 4.7 points in limited playing time in the 2016-2017 season before sitting out last year. Newman scored 16 points in the Grizzlies 99-45 preseason home win over Kalamazoo on Tuesday night.
#OaklandMBB finish the exhibition season strong! 💪
The Golden Grizzlies roll past Kalamazoo 99-45!
Highlights 🎥🏀⬇️ pic.twitter.com/MXgeqsqssj
— Golden Grizzlies (@GoldenGrizzlies) November 7, 2018
Xavier Hill-Mais should be able to make a positive impact this season to help fill the void left from the departure of Jalen Hayes. Hill-Mais is a sturdy 6-foot-7 forward who has the potential to be a big presence down low. He did not play last season, although he averaged 5.1 points on a 51% field goal percentage in 2016-2017.
The Golden Grizzlies were voted to finish in fourth place in the 10 team Horizon League conference in the preseason poll. They won’t contend for the top spot, however, they will be very competitive under head coach Greg Kampe. Last season Oakland averaged 78.2 points, ranking them 68th in the country. They allowed an average of 76.2 points, pegging them 75th overall.
The Oakland Golden Grizzlies are:
- 3-13 ATS in their last 16 home games.
- 7-22 ATS in their last 29 games overall.
- 2-6 ATS in their last 8 Friday games.
The Toledo Rockets are:
- No Key Trends
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I am taking Toledo in this contest. The Rockets return a good portion of their roster on a team that went 23-11 last season. Toledo features Jalean Sanford who averaged 16.3 points last season, and he could be one of the highest scoring players in the Horizon League. The Rockets averaged 79 points last season, and they should pile on the points against a weak defensive Oakland team will give up points. In addition, the Golden Grizzlies lost their top three scorers, and they won’t be quite as productive as last season. Toledo’s scoring depth should shine through in this one.
Prediction: Toledo Rockets
Full-Game Total Pick
The over is a solid play in this matchup. Oakland’s defense was a weakness last season as they allowed an average of 76.2 points. The Rockets shot a sizzling 48% in conference play last season, and they return most of their starters this year, plus the over is 4-1 in the Rockets’ last five non-conference games.
Furthermore, while Oakland did lose a good portion of their scoring, they still have offensive talent and Toledo was below average defensively last season, plus the over is 4-0 in the Grizzlies’ last four non-conference games.
Full-Game Prop Bet
The over on the Rockets team total is a strong play. The Rockets top two returning scorers both shot over 40% from three-point range last season, and Oakland’s three-point defense ranked down at 305th in the country last season. The Rockets ranked 12th in the entire country with a 40.1% efficiency from three-point territory last year, and I expect several three’s in this one.
Prediction: Rockets Team Total: Over
Half-Time Side Pick
I am taking Toledo on the halftime line as well. The Rockets were very productive in the opening half where they averaged 37.7 points last season, ranking them 43rd in the country, and they return almost the same squad this year. Also, the Golden Grizzlies struggled defensively in the first half last year. They allowed an average of 35.8 points, placing them 258th overall.
Prediction: Toledo -3