Best NC Central vs. Norfolk State Bets and Predictions for Monday, Feb. 19

Find out why the Eagles have a great chance to win a second straight over their conference rivals
Ja'Darius Harris averages nearly 16 points per game to lead the Eagles
Ja'Darius Harris averages nearly 16 points per game to lead the Eagles / Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The NC Central Eagles (13-10) bring a two-game losing streak into a Presidents' Day clash with the Norfolk State Spartans (16-9), hoping for a similar result to last months' 60-58 victory.

Norfolk State is an impressive 6-1 in their previous seven contests, though they've failed to cover the spread in five straight. NC Central is just one game behind the Spartans in the Mid-Eastern Conference, so this matchup could have massive postseason implications if the Eagles can get another victory.

It'll be a tough task, though there's reason to believe in the Eagles' chances on the road. Let's take a look at the betting odds before I give my prediction and pick for the game.

NC Central vs. Norfolk State Odds, Spread and Total

NC Central vs. Norfolk State Best Bet and Prediction

NC Central has been impressive on the road this season, going 8-4 against the spread (ATS) while Norfolk State is just 2-5 ATS as home. Stylistically, there are reasons to think the Eagles can keep this game close and cover the 7.5-point spread.

Led by Ja'Darius Harris and his 15.8 points per game, NC Central has four players shooting over 36% from beyond the arc. That's critical against a Norfolk State defense that lets opponents fire up 46.9% of their shots from three-point range, and it's notable that the Eagles won the first matchup despite shooting only 22.2% from three, well below their season-long average.

The Spartans rank 301st nationally in turnover rate (19.4%), 310th in defensive rebounding percentage (67.6%) and 341st in defensive free throw rate (43.2%). All of those factors make it tough to cover a large spread even at home, because each statistic feeds extra opportunities to your opponent. When you combine those factors with an offense that's 296th in effective field goal percentage (47.3%), you have a recipe for disaster.

It's thus not surprising Norfolk State is on an 0-5 ATS run. NC Central is ninth in the country in opponent three-point shooting (29%) and 30th in offensive free throw rate (39.8%), two strengths they can utilize on the road tonight.

Combine all these factors with both teams ranking in the bottom 100 in tempo, and it's hard to see the Spartans covering the large spread barring an excellent shooting night.

Trust the Eagles to keep this within the number and improve to 9-4 ATS on the road this season.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.