The Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles and Rice Owls square off in the Conference USA Tournament on Tuesday night at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. This is the practice facility for the Dallas Cowboys, which includes seating for spectators that can be altered for other sporting events. In this case, it’s the college hoops Conference USA Tournament. Rice gets to stay in-state for this tournament, but won’t be on their home court.
Both Southern Mississippi and Rice enter the conference tournament with an upset bid on their minds. Southern Mississippi is the No. 7 seed, while Rice received the No. 6 seed for the C-USA tourney. It would be a sizable upset if Southern Mississippi or Rice win this tournament. It’s highly unlikely either of them can compete with the top contenders, but upsets are meant to happen in March. Southern Mississippi finished dead last in the West Division with a record of 8-16 and 4-13 in the conference.
Southern Mississippi was by far the worst team in the West Division, and didn’t come close to catching Rice for next to last. Rice had a record of 13-12 and 6-10 in Conference USA. They weren’t competitive with UAB and Louisiana Tech, who were the only teams in the conference to record 20 wins, but managed to stay out of the basement of the West Division. They are going to have to catch some breaks along the way to win the conference, but they have a seat at the table, and anything could happen at this point in a brand “new” season.
The Golden Eagles are coming off two losses against Florida Atlantic to close out the regular season. They were losers by a score of 69-60 and 73-66 in a couple of disappointing showings from Southern Mississippi. Southern Mississippi were awful down the stretch, as they went 1-10 in their previous 11 outings. That included two losses against the Owls.
Rice goes into Tuesday with losses in four of their last five games, four losses against top ranked Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech. They had nothing to play for in the regular season finale against Our Lady of the Lake in a 80-77 win on Friday. Head below for our free Southern Mississippi vs. Rice pick on March 9, 2021.
Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles vs. Rice Owls Conference USA Tournament Betting Odds:
Southern Mississippi vs. Rice Prediction:
Southern Mississippi is going to have to draw something much better up than they have been as of late. For almost a month, Southern Mississippi has been well out of form, with their only win on February 19 against Florida International, 85-72. That was a rare instance of the Golden Eagles playing a complete game.
During this cold drought for the Golden Eagles, they also picked up two losses against the Owls. Rice defeated Southern Mississippi in both outings on February 5, 88-62, and February 6, 76-68. After getting stomped on in the first game, you would have thought Southern Mississippi would have come closer than an 8-point loss the next night.
The Golden Eagles rely on their defense, though it’s not nearly strong enough to compensate for the anemic offense. Southern Mississippi ranks 316th in the NCAA with 64.7 points scored per game. In their previous five outings, they’ve been pretty consistent in that regard, with 63.2 points conceded per contest. Also note that they scored around the same against Rice in two games.
Southern Mississippi has been pretty easy to pinpoint where they’re going to land offensively in games. Besides the outlier against FIU, Southern Mississippi has struggled mightily to record more than 70 points. Conversely, the Owls have been holding up well offensively, with 75 points per game for 83rd in the NCAA. Their defense is beatable, having conceded 74.8 points a game. However, the Golden Eagles do not have the firepower to exploit the Rice defense.
If Rice advances, they are going to run into a team that can shoot the ball, but that team isn’t Southern Mississippi. Rice is 3-0 in their last three against Southern Mississippi, 72-52, 88-62, and 76-68. Southern Mississippi is 1-6 ATS in their last seven games, so they haven’t been covering either. They’ve struggled badly at bouncing back from losses. When taking a loss, they’ve responded in the next outing to go 1-4 ATS in their last five games in that situation. I like a 74-66 win for Rice in Texas tonight.