While there are just 26 total games on the NCAA Men’s College Basketball slate for today, we have several games that are sure to have NCAA tournament implications. The Alabama Crimson Tide are looking to stay undefeated in SEC play, as they host the Kentucky Wildcats. The Wildcats are finally starting to show some signs of life, with a recent victory over Florida. The Tide debuted in the top-10 this week, coming in at 9th, and they have been spectacular in conference play, running up an 8-0 league record.
In other SEC action, the Missouri Tigers play at the Auburn Tigers, LSU plays at Texas A&M, and Tennessee plays host to Mississippi State. The SEC remains one of the top conferences in the nation, with at least 9 teams potentially vying for a spot in the NCAA tournament. The Big 12, many people’s pick for the most talented league in the land, has just one game on the schedule, but it’s a good one, as Texas hosts Oklahoma in a Red River Rivalry game from Austin.
Ready to go to work. 😤
— Auburn Basketball (@AuburnMBB) January 26, 2021
In the A-10, the Saint Louis Billikens are happy to just be back on the floor, as they will play tonight for the first time in over a month. COVID-19 delays have wreaked havoc on the Billikens season, but they are still ranked in the top-25 nationally and have an impressive 7-1 record. Saint Louis will play their first conference game of the season tonight, welcoming the Dayton Flyers to town. The other game in the A-10 features Richmond trying to get back on track at St. Joseph’s. For our free daily betting pick, we will head to the Missouri Valley Conference for the game between Missouri State and Drake.
- Drake Bulldogs (13-0) at Missouri State Bears (9-1)
- JQH Arena, Springfield
- 5:00 PM PST
- TV: N/A
The Drake Bulldogs were playing as well as any team in the nation before seeing their season get derailed by a COVID-19 outbreak, and the Bulldogs will take the floor tonight for the first time in nearly a month as they head to Springfield to play the Missouri State Bears. Drake is one of the last undefeated teams in the country and they are hoping to pick up right where they left off in early January.
🏀GAMEDAY!🏀#DSMHometownTeam is back!
Grateful for the opportunity to be back on the court today at Missouri State
📍 Springfield, Mo.
🕖 7 p.m.
📺 HOW TO WATCH ⤵️https://t.co/kyD8ALn3MJ
— Drake Basketball (@DrakeBulldogsMB) January 26, 2021
For Missouri State, the Bears are sitting at 9-1, and they too, haven’t played a lot of basketball lately as they have only played one game in the last two weeks, a thrashing on D2 school Missouri S&T back on January 17. The winner of this game will have a legit shot to hang with the Ramblers of Loyola-Chicago for first place in the league standings, who have jumped out to an 8-1 record in MVC play.
Drake Bulldogs (13-0)
When a team is undefeated, it is always something to brag about. But when you take a little closer to look at how this Drake team was playing before seeing their season get shut down over a month ago, they were doing something very special. Not only did Drake win every game on their schedule, they covered the spread in every game too. Now, before you try to point to their putrid strength of schedule and weak competition as to why they had so much success, I would like to remind you that the books know about weak competition too, and the lines are set to make up for that.
So, in theory, going undefeated against the spread is just as hard against bad teams as it is against good teams. Drake has managed to run up that hot start by absolutely shooting the lights out in most games. The Bulldogs are shooting nearly 60% from the field as a team, a mind-boggling high percentage. They also lead the nation in 3-point shooting percentage at 44%. It’s hard to lose games when you never miss a shot.
Missouri State Bears (9-1)
While Missouri State hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as Drake has this year, the Bears have been elite against the spread as well. Missouri State is 7-1 against the spread this season, 3rd best in the nation, trailing only Drake and Prairie View A&M. The Bears get after things in a similar fashion as the Bulldogs as they too are an excellent shooting team.
Missouri State is shooting 59% from the field as a team, 4th best in the nation. While they are solid from the perimeter, they make most of their shots from inside, where they are shooting 64%, 2nd best in the country. The only loss on the year for Missouri State came on the back end of an especially brutal road trip to Northern Iowa, where they had to play the Panthers on their home floor on back-to-back nights.
The Bear’s entire season will come down to the next week or so, as they play two games at home against Drake, and then the Ramblers of Loyola-Chicago come to town for a back-to-back. If the Bears can sweep that series of games, they are your regular-season champs of the MVC.
Who Do I Like?
I love small conference basketball, and the Missouri Valley is one of the most competitive mid-major conferences in the country. The MVC is making a name for itself this year, as they are currently the 11th rated conference on Kenpom, coming in just behind the Mountain West and West Coast Conference and ahead of Conference USA, the MAC, and the SOCON. Whatever team emerges from this tightly knit group of Drake, Loyola-Chicago, and Missouri State is going to be a tough out in the NCAA tournament.
I don’t want to discount what the Missouri State Bears have been able to do this season, but I am not sure they belong in this group with Drake and Loyola-Chicago. If you believe Kenpom, and you should, the Bears are currently ranked 122nd in the nation. Drake comes in at 64th, and Loyola-Chicago looks to be in a prime spot for an at-large bid currently ranked 21st. Pomeroy doesn’t even have the Bears as the 3rd best team in the MVC, as Bradley ranks ahead of them at 115th. This feels like it just might be a mismatch.
When you have a team that is covering literally every single game, the books tend to post some outrageously overpriced numbers on them. Teams like these ones catch the attention of the general betting public and get a lot of public action, so books know they can price them higher than they should and get away with it. But that isn’t the case with this game, as Kenpom has the Bulldogs winning by 4 points, and the line is only -3.
I guess the fact that Drake hasn’t played in a month has scared off bettors, as the line has mostly stayed put since it opened, with a couple of books adjusting a half of a point to -3.5. But when I see that Missouri State hasn’t really played much either, I see that lack of action essentially balancing itself out. Drake is the far superior team in this matchup. If this game were on a neutral site, and the Bulldogs hadn’t missed an entire month’s worth of play, I could see the Bulldogs blowing them out.
But it’s not, it’s at Missouri State, and the Bulldogs are likely to be a bit rusty. That being said, I can’t talk myself out of backing the Bulldogs in this one. They have covered every game this season, and they are going to gut out a cover tonight on the road too. Give me the Drake Bulldogs laying -3-points at Missouri State. I’ll call it a final score of 74-68, Drake.