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Following a 2-7 start to the Horizon League season, the Penguins have put together an unlikely five-game winning streak to get back to the .500-mark. Youngstown State comes into Saturday’s matchup in a three-way tie for fifth place in the league standings, putting them 1.5-games back of the Flames, who are in third place with an 8-5 conference record. Can Youngstown State continue their recent success by upsetting UIC at home on Saturday night?
Flames push current winning streak to four games
Illinois-Chicago won their fourth consecutive conference game on Thursday night with a hard fought 81-77 victory on the road versus Cleveland State. Marcus Ottey scored 20 points to lead all scorers, while Tarkus Ferguson added 19 for the Flames, who led by as many as 13 points on the night before holding on late. The Flames have played in some tight games as of late, which should help them down the stretch of the season, as UIC’s last three victories have come by a combined seven points.
Tarkus Ferguson✅ a true pro prospect pic.twitter.com/o2zz0BM2nJ
— BellyFamVon™️ (@wavybvon) August 30, 2018
Steve McClain has guided the Flames to an 8-5 record in the Horizon League standings and UIC comes into this matchup slotted at No.191 in the latest KenPom rankings. The Flames have scored 101.4 points per 100 possessions for the season (225th in the NCAA) and 102.7 points per 100 possessions during conference play (9th in the Horizon League). They sport an effective field goal percentage of 52.6 percent (3rd in the Horizon League), but the Flames have turned the ball over 18.7 percent of their offensive possessions (8th in the Horizon League), while shooting only 66.7 percent from the charity stripe as a team during conference play (10th in the Horizon League) so far this year.
Instead, the Flames have been forced to make their living on the other end of the floor, where they have shown plenty of improvement since the start of conference play. UIC has allowed 104.3 points per 100 possessions for the season (187th in the NCAA) compared to just 100.4 points per 100 possessions during league play (3rd in the Horizon League). They also rank as the best effective field goal percentage defense at 46.1 percent and they have limited Horizon League opponents to just 42.6 percent shooting from inside the arc through their first 13 conference games (1st in the Horizon League).
Penguins win fifth straight Horizon League contest
Youngstown State improved to 7-7 in conference play after Donel Cathcart III scored the go-ahead 3-pointer with just five seconds remaining to lift the Penguins to a tight 75-73 victory at home over IUPUI on Thursday evening. Darius Quisenberry and Jelani Simmons scored 17 points apiece, while Michael Akuchie added 14 for the Penguins, who nearly blew a 15-point lead with just over 10 minutes remaining in the second half.
— Malutic Live (@Malutic_Live) February 15, 2019
Jerrod Calhoun’s squad enters the weekend ranked No. 261 in the latest KenPom rankings after firing off a five-game winning streak in Horizon League play. The Penguins come in scoring 103.1 points per 100 possessions for the season (194th in the NCAA), but they’ve shown drastic improvement on that end of the floor during Horizon League play, averaging a healthy 109.0 points per 100 possessions versus conference opponents (2nd in the Horizon League). Youngstown State has turned the ball over on just 17.5 percent of their offensive possessions in league play (3rd in the Horizon League) and they have also hauled in 34.8 percent of their missed field goal attempts on the offensive glass (2nd in the Horizon League) so far this year. The Penguins do most of their damage from 3-point range on offense, as they have shot 44.1 percent of their total attempts from beyond the arc (3rd in the Horizon League), while connecting on 36.4 percent of their 3-point attempts during the Horizon League play (4th in the Horizon League).
On defense, Youngstown State has allowed 111.4 points per 100 possessions for the year (311th in the NCAA) and 109.3 points per 100 possessions against Horizon League opponents (7th in the Horizon League).
- Penguins are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Penguins are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 Saturday games.
- Penguins are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 home games.
- Flames are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games.
- Flames are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a losing straight up record.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
UIC has dominated this series as of late, covering the spread in five of their last six trips to Youngstown State and five of their last six games versus the Penguins overall. Both teams enter this matchup riding winning streaks of four games or more, but the Flames have performed well in close games as of late, which should give them some added confidence heading into this matchup. Take the Flames to cover the number on the road on this spot on Saturday night.
Prediction: Pick: UIC Flames -1
Full-Game Total Pick
These two teams have gone over the projected total in six of their last seven meetings and 10 of their last 13 meetings in Youngstown State. The Penguins have gone over in five of their last six games versus a team with a winning record, while the Flames have gone over the projected total in each of their last four road contests. Look for this Horizon League battle to go over the projected total on Saturday night.
Prediction: Over 148.5