Rice Owls at Western Kentucky Hilltoppers – NCAAM February 12

Rice (12-8, 6-6) at Western Kentucky (13-4, 6-2)

  • Time: 5 PST – 7 CST – 8 EST
  • Place: Diddle Arena, Bowling Green, Ky.
  • TV: ESPN+

Opening Tip:

The Owls ended a five-game losing streak by sweeping a pair of games from Southern Mississippi last weekend. Western Kentucky has been paused for the last weekends due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ‘Toppers have won four in a row and five of their last six as a Jan. 24 win over Middle Tennessee State was the team’s last game.

Western Kentucky leads the series over Rice, 5-2, as the Hilltoppers are 2-1 in Bowling Green.

Vs. The Spread:

Rice:

  • The OVER has been the play in 5 of the Owls’ last 6 games
  • The Owls are 1-4 SU in their last 5 games vs. WKU
  • Rice is 1-5 SU in it’s last 6 road games

Western Kentucky:

  • The Hilltoppers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games
  • The total has gone UNDER in 4 of WKU’s last 6 games
  • The OVER has been the play in 4 of the last 6 WKU-Rice outings

Last Time Out:

Quincy Olivari scored 20 points as Rice made 14-of-32 three-pointers in taking down Southern Miss, 76-68 to sweep the Golden Eagles in a back-to-back. The Owls assisted 21 of 24 made shots as Max Fielder added five assists to go with 16 points.

The Hilltoppers rolled past Middle Tennessee State, 68-52, behind 23 points and 14 rebounds from Charles Bassey. WKU held the Blue Raiders to 9-of-32 from the floor in the first half to take a 31-20 halftime lead. MTSU only shot 28.6 percent on the day and made only five threes.

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Rice +10½ (-110) +430 O 147½ (-105)
Western Kentucky -10½ (-110) -550 U 147½ (-115)

Advantage, Rice:

Rice Owls LogoThe Owls are a three-point shooting outfit as around half of their field goal attempts are from three-point range. Quincy Olivari, Travis Evee, and Riley Abercrombie have combined to make 147 of the Owls’ 212 triples.  Sophomore forward Max Fiedler is leading Conference USA and is third in the nation in field goal percentage, connecting on 69.2% of his shots.

Key Owls Stat:

The playmaking of the Rice guards is a key reason why the Owls find so many three-point shots. Rice leads CUSA with 16.4 assists per game as they also have a higher turnover rate with 14.4 turnovers per game. Max Fielder actually leads the Owls in assists with 81 as Rice goes inside to free up their three-point game.

X-Factor:

The Owls only force 10.7 turnovers per game so the ability to force the more athletic Hilltoppers into miscues may not be likely. Western Kentucky does mishandles 12.6 balls over game. Defending the ‘Toppers perimeter will be a major chore with the speed and quickness of Taevion Hollingsworth and Day’vion McKnight.

Advantage, WKU:

Western Kentucky HilltoppersCharles Bassey (17.7 ppg, 12.8 rpg) is NBA first-round draft pick material as he has clearly been the most dominant force in CUSA this season. Taevion Hollingsworth and Josh Anderson are versatile on the perimeter and with McKnight running the point, Western Kentucky has a chance to play deep into March as long as they stay healthy and continue feeding Bassey the basketball. Rice’s Fielder will have his hands full for the first time with Bassey, who shoots 59.1 percent from the floor.

Key Hilltoppers Stat:

The sleek athleticism of Josh Anderson (54.6%)  has given the Hilltoppers a stopper on the perimeter with his length, but also a major scoring threat on the offensive end of the floor with his slashing ability as a 6-6 swingman. He is 15-of-26 over his last four games as he had 22 points in a win at Marshall. He has also made 49-of-55 free throws as he gets rewarded for going to the basket off the dribble.

X-Factor:

Luke Frampton (7.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg) transferred over to Western Kentucky from Davidson and he currently leads the Hilltoppers with 34 threes and 41.5 percent from beyond the arc. He averages 20.9 minutes off the bench and his production allowed coach Rick Stansbury to use different combinations in the backcourt as Frampton is a small forward, but shoots like a 2-guard.

WINNER: Western Kentucky (-10½) 83, Rice 68
O/U: Take OVER 147½

The Bets
Western Kentucky (-10½)
-110
OVER 147½
-115
Sub Categories:
Kenneth Cross / Author

Kenneth Cross is a new entry to The Sports Geek staff as he has 25 years of experience in print, broadcast, and internet sports journalism. Cross is a lover of all sports, but college basketball is his passion. He estimates that he has seen around 1,500 college basketball games - live and in-person - and hopes that grows this season. If you listen to Radio, you have likely heard him on Sundays covering the Carolina Panthers for some 20 years. Now in Tampa Bay, he works as a national radio correspondent.