Well, there are bad beats, and then there is what happened to us last night. Last night, we backed the Penn State Nittany Lions at home, laying -2-points, against the Seton Hall Pirates. I felt that the Nittany Lions were being underrated, and the Pirates were being overrated and saw it as a great spot to back a home team at close to even money. So, I fired on Penn State and expected them to win and cover.
When Penn State led by 19-points with under 5-minutes left to play in the first half, I was already patting myself on the back for a job well done. The Nittany Lions were blowing them out, and the game wasn’t competitive. The Pirates went on a little run to close out the first half, cutting the lead to 11-points at 45-34, but the game was seemingly still well under control.
— Seton Hall Men's Basketball (@SetonHallMBB) December 7, 2020
Then disaster struck. The Pirates went on a furious run to actually take the lead early in the second half. What was once a giant lead had vanished. Now, I have seen teams blow big leads before, it’s not all that uncommon, the next part is what really stings about this one. Penn State was able to absorb the run and retook the lead late in the game. With under 2-minutes left to play, the run was over, and Penn State had rebuilt an 8-point lead.
At this point, I chuckled to myself about seeing the Nittany Lions almost blow my sure-fire winning bet and expected to take home the winner after Penn State settled down and took control of the game. But Seton Hall would not be denied and tied the game up and took it to overtime with a late rally.
In overtime, the Pirates poured it on and eventually won the game outright, spoiling our bet. It was certainly a frustrating way to lose, as we were in such good shape, both early in the game, and late. What can you do? Bad beats happen. We will shake off that run bad tonight as we head to Oregon, where the Ducks host the Eastern Washington Eagles.
- Eastern Washington Eagles (0-2) at Oregon Ducks (1-1)
- Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene
- 4:00 PM PST
- TV: PACN
The Oregon Ducks will play their home opener tonight as they host the Eastern Washington Eagles in a non-conference game. The Ducks came into this year looking to be one of the favorites in the PAC-12 Conference but started their season off with a loss to Missouri. The Ducks rebounded in their next game to knock off Seton Hall and have two home games in the non-conference season left before starting their league play schedule against Washington on the road, December 12th.
Another day, another opportunity against a Pac-12 opponent! It's game day in Oregon.
— EWU MBB (@EWUMBB) December 7, 2020
For EWU, the Eagles will play their third consecutive game against the PAC-12 and will be looking for their first win after dropping games to Washington State and Arizona. The Eagles are the favorites in the Big Sky this year, and they have scheduled tough, as, in addition to this trio of PAC-12 games, they play perennial West Coast contenders like St. Mary’s and UNLV, before heading into league play.
Eastern Washington Eagles (0-2)
The Eastern Washington Eagles are a solid Big Sky basketball team. Now, you have to take that with a bit of a grain of salt when these Big Sky teams are playing outside of their conference, as the Big Sky is a small conference, that doesn’t win many games in the NCAA tournament.
In the 58-year existence of the league, they have won a total of 11 NCAA tournament games despite getting an auto-bid into the dance every year. This year, the Eagles are the favorites to snag that auto-bid as they will battle it out with Southern Utah and Montana for dancing shoes.
The Eagles return basically everyone from last year’s team that won the Big Sky regular-season title and 23-games. The standout for the Eagles is senior guard Jacob Davison. Davison is expected to take home player of the year honors in the Big Sky this year and returns after scoring 19-points a game last season. Davison has gotten off to a slow start this year, averaging just 9-points a game and shooting only 18% from three-point land.
Oregon Ducks (1-1)
Are the Oregon Ducks the best team in the PAC-12? Teams like UCLA, USC, and Arizona State are going to give them a run for their money, but on paper, the Ducks are the team to beat out west. Long-time point guard Peyton Pritchard is gone, but Will Richardson looks ready to step in and fill his big shoes for the Ducks. The problem for Oregon is that Richardson recently had surgery on his thumb and is going to miss at least a month’s worth of action. That leaves the Ducks without a leader, at least in the first half of the year.
Enter Chris Duarte. Duarte is a senior guard and should be able to keep the ship afloat until Richardson can return. Duarte was a do-everything type of guy for Oregon last season, but was at his best, playing Robin to Pritchard’s Batman.
In the win against Seton Hall, he struggled, scoring 14-points, but turning the ball over 4 times. Once Richardson gets back on the floor and can bring the ball up for Oregon, Duarte will again be in a role where he can thrive, and these two guys give the Ducks the best guard combo in the PAC-12.
Who Do I Like?
EWU has yet to win either of their two games against the Pac-12 this year. But, had you bet on the Eagles in both contests, you would have won both bets, as they are 2-0 ATS. I don’t think the Eagles are going to knock off the Ducks, but they nearly upset Arizona on the road in their last game, leading the entire way out before crumbling in the game’s final few minutes. They were getting +13-points in that one, and I expect a similar performance from them tonight.
If Oregon were at full strength, this game likely wouldn’t be competitive. But playing without your point guard is never easy, and the Ducks haven’t looked great this year in limited action. Throw in the fact that the Duck’s elite home-court advantage won’t be the same without fans in the stands, and I see Eastern Washington keeping this game competitive and covering the spread.
When you play in a league like the Big Sky, these early season non-conference games are your Final Four. These are the games where you can build your program and showcase to the nation that you can play with the big boys. The Eagles aren’t quite on that level as a program just yet, but they are on their way. They won’t win tonight, but they will give a big effort and keep the game close enough to cover.
The Ducks will be shorthanded and don’t have any reason to run this score up if they do take an early lead. Oregon will win, but it will likely be only by single digits. If the Eagles get hot, they could have Oregon on upset alert.
I’ll back the Eagles tonight in this one and look for them to keep up their undefeated against the spread record against the PAC-12. Give me the Eastern Washington Eagles tonight, getting +14.5-points as they sneak in a cover against the Ducks!