This is the rare immediate rematch in college basketball, as these teams finished the season facing each other and drew each other in the quarterfinals of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. The trends suggest that this is going to be another tight battle, as the two teams met twice during the regular season and had their games decided by a mere three points total, with Drake winning by one in Carbondale and by two in Des Moines.
After playing two games that were so similar to each other in the regular season, it’s fair to wonder if the same thing is going to repeat itself again here. Drake’s defense has mostly been rock-solid in Missouri Valley play, as the only teams that the Bulldogs have allowed to top 70 points in their past 10 games have been league leaders Loyola and Northern Iowa. Meanwhile, Southern Illinois tends to draw things out and limit the number of shots in a game, which leads to low totals and tight battles down the stretch. With how well these teams know each other, it seems highly likely that another defensive battle is coming.
Southern Illinois Salukis vs. Drake Bulldogs Betting Analysis
Opening Betting Odds and Lines
(16-14 SU, 18-11 ATS)
(22-9 SU, 15-11 ATS)
When: 9 p.m., Friday, March 4th Where: Enterprise Center, St. Louis
Betting the Total
In the teams’ two meetings, the one constant was the sheer lack of possessions. Southern Illinois only took 40 shots when the teams met in Carbondale, and it wasn’t because Drake was dominating on the offensive glass. The Salukis believe their best chance is to limit the number of touches and make sure that their leader Marcus Domask takes the most shots of anyone on the floor. When it follows that strategy, Southern Illinois is usually successful, as it has played to the under in 18 of its 29 contests this season.
Drake doesn’t usually slow it down, but the Bulldogs don’t mind playing at the Salukis’ pace. Garrett Sturtz ranked third in the conference in rebounding, and Drake is second in the league only to Bradley on the offensive glass. These teams are likely to draw out their possessions again, which means the total will be hard to hit.
I recommend backing Under 127 points.
Backing the Spread
I’m going to give two plays here, as both games have unfolded in the same way as well as one that matches what each team does best. Drake has been a first-half team all year long, as the Bulldogs often get wins by burying opponents early and controlling the game from there. Drake has led at the break in eight of its past 10 games and both meetings between the teams, so I recommend a play on Drake -1.5 first half.
However, the Bulldogs haven’t been able to sustain games for 40 minutes, as they usually find themselves hanging on at the end rather than dominating from first whistle to last. As such, I think this will come down to the final possession again.
For the full 40 minutes, I recommend Southern Illinois +3.5.
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