While the college hoops schedule isn’t packed with games today, there are just 33 total games on the slate, there are some exciting matchups on deck for this afternoon. West Virginia hosts a North Texas team that hasn’t played very well, but has a lot of talent, as the Mean Green are one of the favorites in Conference USA this year. If Press Virginia doesn’t play their A-game, they could be on upset alert.
Iowa and Iowa State square off in an in-state rivalry game, with the Hawkeyes as prohibitive favorites. The battle for Hawkeye State bragging rights seems destined to stay with the Hawkeyes this year, as they are double-digit favorites over a down Cyclones team. But these kids just don’t like each other in what is one of the better non-conference rivalries in the country, and you can usually throw the records out when these two teams play.
No teams light up the scoreboard quite like these guys 🔥🎯 pic.twitter.com/erh2iuVED0
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) December 9, 2020
The Creighton Blue Jays will look to rebound tonight at home against Nebraska, after losing their first game of the season, a 1-point loss at Phog Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence to the Kansas Jayhawks. The Blue Jays are ranked in the top-10 and will contend with Villanova for the Big East regular-season title this year. Other games of note today include Georgetown hosting Villanova in a Big East Conference game, and the St. John’s Red Storm play at Seton Hall in another Big East league game, the first of the season for both squads.
Lastly, we have two fun rivalry games in the Dakotas as North Dakota State hosts South Dakota, and South Dakota State hosts North Dakota. For those of you that never pay any attention to The Summit League, you are missing out, as these teams play an exciting brand of basketball, and The Summit is one of the most consistently competitive leagues in the nation. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will head to Carbondale, Illinois, where the Southern Illinois Salukis welcome the Murray State Racers to town for a non-conference clash.
- Murray State Racers (3-1) at Southern Illinois Salukis (2-0)
- Banterra Center, Carbondale
- 4:30 PM PST
- TV: ESPN3
The battle over which valley is better goes down tonight, as the Murray State Racers of the Ohio Valley Conference travel to Southern Illinois to play the Salukis of the Missouri Valley Conference tonight in a non-conference game! The Racers are off to a 3-1 start and are the favorites to take home the OVC title this year and get back to the NCAA tournament after coming up short last season. The Ohio Valley is always a quality league, and the Racers will compete with Belmont and Austin Peay for the league’s auto-bid into the Big Dance.
— Saluki Basketball (@SIU_Basketball) December 10, 2020
For Southern Illinois, the Salukis are expected to be a middle of the pack team in a loaded MVC. Southern Illinois is undefeated so far this year, and they will have by far their biggest test of the season thus far, tonight against Murray State. If the Salukis can play up to their potential this season, they just might be able to hang with Loyola-Chicago and Northern Iowa at the top of the league and compete for a trip to the NCAA tournament.
Murray State Racers (3-1)
The Murray State Racers made a huge statement in the OVC in their last game, when they blew out Austin Peay. Many expected Austin Peay to compete with Belmont and Murray State for the OVC title this year, as they have the best roster that they have had in Clarksville in a very long time. But the Racers reminded everybody who runs the Ohio Valley Conference when they smashed the Governors by 30-points.
Tevin Brown is on the shortlist for player of the year in the OVC this year, and he showed it against Austin Peay when he dropped 19-points on them, including nailing 5-three points. However, as impressive as the Racers looked against Austin Peay, they haven’t been great all the time this year. They are 3-0 at home, but on the road, they are 0-1, with a loss to a bad Middle Tennessee team. The Blue Raiders are 0-3 this season besides that win against Murray State, with all of those wins coming to teams ranked 170th or worse in the nation.
Southern Illinois Salukis (2-0)
I really like this Southern Illinois team. They have all the makings of a true Cinderella this season. The Salukis have two returning sophomores that were both outstanding as freshman in Marcus Domask and Lance Jones. The biggest jump in production we see in college basketball players is between their freshman and sophomore seasons, and if both of these guys can take a big step up, Southern Illinois is going to be really good.
On top of the returning guys, the Salukis also brought in a host of transfers to load the roster up with talent. Ben Harvey from Eastern Illinois has been thrown right into the starting lineup and has impressed, averaging 19 points a game on 57% shooting from the field, including a sizzling hot 50% from three and 85% from the charity stripe.
The other kid I am excited about for Southern Illinois is freshman Dalton Banks. Banks is expected to be one of the top freshmen in the league this season, and his upside makes the Salukis a sneaky contender in the MVC.
Who Do I Like?
Let’s just get this out of the way right now, Murray State is the better team in the matchup. I like Southern Illinois, they have a lot more talent than people are giving them credit for, and I think they are going to finish near the top of the Missouri Valley this year, but Murray State is a team that could potentially win a game in the NCAA tournament. That being said, after seeing what the public did to this betting line, the value is on backing the Salukis right now.
Murray State opened up as -3-point betting favorites. That was likely a bit undervalued as kenpom has the Racers winning by five. The sharps saw the weak line and jumped on Murray State. But since then, the public does what it always seems to do, and overreacted, and they have been hammering Murray State.
This line has now moved three and a half points towards the Racers, and now that I can back the Salukis as home dogs, getting way too many points, I have no choice but to once again fade the public and back the home team.
Getting +6.5-points means that all I need is for Southern Illinois to not get blown out at home. As great as Murray State has been in the last three years, and no, Ja Morant isn’t walking back through those doors, they have struggled on the road. They are 0-1 on the road this year with a bad loss to Middle Tennessee, and last year, of their 9 losses, all of them came on either neutral floors or away games.
When you look at Southern Illinois, they have a much better roster this year than last year and will likely be the most improved team in the MVC. But even with an inferior roster last season, they were good at home. The Salukis finished an underwhelming 16-16 in 2020, but at home, they were 13-3.
I think Murray State likely guts out this victory, but it is going to be close, and if Southern Illinois gets hot, they could pick up the upset. Give me the Southern Illinois Salukis and the +6.5-points tonight as they defend their home floor and keep it close enough to cover and cash our ticket!