The Jacksonville State Gamecocks are in Nashville at the Curb Event Center on Thursday night for a big battle against the Belmont Bruins. This is a marquee matchup in the Ohio Valley Conference, which pits the one team that might be able to upset Belmont and win the Ohio Valley tournament, against a Ohio Valley juggernaut.
Jacksonville State is going to need some breaks along the way, but they’ve been on fire recently and flying up the standings in the conference. The Gamecocks head into Nashville on a four-game winning streak, and wins in six of their last eight games. I don’t know if Jacksonville State has what it takes to get even hotter come conference tournament time, but you have to like the way they’ve been playing recently.
Jacksonville State is coming off a 80-60 win over SIU Edwardsville on Saturday. It was a team win, as five members of the Gamecocks got into double digits to pull away for an easy win. Jacksonville State scored 40 points in the first-half, and then they did the same in the second for a couple of competitive halves of basketball.
With the win for the Gamecocks, they are fourth in the Ohio Valley with a record of 14-7 overall and 10-5 in the conference. They trail Eastern Kentucky, Morehead State, and Belmont in the standings. All of these teams have the talent to get hot from the field. It’s what makes the Ohio Valley basketball exciting to watch. This isn’t a boring conference that grinds out games too often. The teams come out firing looking to score, and that can result in entertaining contests.
Belmont is the heavy favorite to win the Ohio Valley conference. They look like a team that is just waiting around before their name is called to go to the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins head into Thursday night with a record of 22-1. They are a perfect 16-0 in the conference, and are favorites to go undefeated.
That said, three of their final four games are against the teams immediately behind Belmont, including Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State. Their only loss this season is against Samford in an upset on December 6, 96-83. Following that loss, Belmont ripped off 19 straight wins and they can make it a 20-game winning streak tonight. Head below for our free Jacksonville State vs. Belmont pick on February 18, 2021.
Jacksonville State Gamecocks vs. Belmont Bruins NCAA Betting Odds:
Jacksonville State vs. Belmont Prediction:
Jacksonville State has to go on the road to deal with the best shooting team in the Ohio Valley on Thursday. They better be ready to run and fire away to keep up with this Bruins’ offense. The hot shooting of Belmont makes them a dangerous tournament team. We see a smaller conference team show up in the tournament and just not seem to miss. That team could be Belmont in 2021. The Bruins are shooting a whopping 51.3% from the field for fourth in the NCAA.
That equates to 83.3 points per game for the Bruins, eighth in the country. In their previous five outings, Belmont has netted 84 points per game, so pretty consistent with their overall output in the 2020-21 campaign. Against one of the best defenses in the Ohio Valley Conference, Belmont recently scored 73 points against Morehead State on Saturday. That is one of their worst shooting performances of the season, and should be able to find a lot more room in this one against the Gamecocks.
This is a team that Belmont has traditionally lit up like a Christmas tree. Belmont has scored 199 points against Jacksonville State in their previous two meetings. They were 101-84 winners on February 15, 2020, and then outlasted Jacksonville State by a score of last month on January 16, 98-91, at Jacksonville State. There were three Bruins with at least 18 points on the board.
The Gamecocks haven’t been as efficient as Belmont offensively this season, but still a very respectable 75 points per game for 100th in the NCAA. They’re shooting 45.8% from the field for 90th. Both defenses are serviceable, with around 70 points conceded per game, but as we saw in their first meeting, they are not really built to deal with top offenses. That will certainly be Belmont’s undoing in the NCAA Tournament. Don’t expect another 98-91 game, but a 83-73 final looks accurate. The spread looks sharp, but value appears to be present on the OVER.