The Bradley Braves will be hoping to halt a three-game losing streak when they entertain the Missouri State Bears at Carver Arena on Saturday night. Bradley is coming off consecutive setbacks against Northern Iowa, Indiana State, and Valparaiso. The Bears had dropped two in a row before beating Indiana State on Tuesday.
After securing their first road win of the season Tuesday at Indiana State, the Bears wrap a two-game Missouri Valley Conference road swing on Saturday. Overall, they have won 11 of the last 16 meetings against the Braves. Guard Jarred Dixon has scored in double-figures 13 times in 16 games this season, making him one of the Missouri Valley’s most-improved players. He averaged 9.1 points per game last year and currently ranks ninth in the MVC with a 14.6 ppg average this year. He also ranks No. 23 on MSU’s career scoring list (1,058) and is now 21 points away from Andy Newton (1973-76) for the No. 22 position.
— MSU Bears Basketball (@MSUBearsHoops) January 9, 2019
Missouri State ranks second in the Missouri Valley in points per game (76.2 ppg) and points per possession (1.05). The high-flying Bears also lead the MVC in possessions per 40 minutes (70.9). Tulio Da Silva (Jr., Formiga, Brazil) is the top newcomer in the conference this season in both scoring (15.5 ppg) and rebounding (6.4 rpg). He ranks sixth and seventh, respectively, overall in the MVC in those two categories. The transfer from South Florida has scored in double-figures in nine of 11 games with the Bears and has scored 20 points four times. Senior Josh Webster leads the MVC and ranks sixth nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.83-to-1). Over the last six games, he has dished out 39 assists with a mere five turnovers (7.8-to-1).
Bradley has lost its first three conference games of the season and is 8-8 on the year following a 61-50 setback at Valparaiso on Tuesday. Junior Darrell Brown leads the Braves with 15.3 points and 3.1 assists per game. Sophomore Elijah Childs is second on the team with 11.8 points per game and leads the way with 7.5 rebounds per outing. Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye (8.9 ppg), Nate Kennell (8.9 ppg), and Koch Bar (8.6 ppg) round out the team’s top five in scoring. Bradley is scoring 67.6 points per game in 2018-19 while owning the Valley’s second-best scoring defense at 67.1 ppg.
Overall, the Braves rank in the top three of four defensive categories in the Valley–leading the league in field-goal percentage defense (41.5 percent), ranking second in steals (6.6 spg) and turnovers forced (15.3 per contest), and placing third in blocks (3.8 bpg). The strength, especially, is Bradley’s two-point defense. The Braves lead the MVC and rank 42nd nationally by allowing opponents to make only 45.7 percent of their shots from inside the arc (national average is 50.3). Bradley is on pace for its best two-point defense since the 2005-06 team owned a mark of 44.9 percent.
The Bradley Braves are:
- 20-7-1 ATS in their last 28 home games against teams with losing road records
- 19-7-1 ATS in their last 27 home games against teams with road winning percentages under .400
- 4-0-1 Under in their last five overall
The Missouri State Bears are:
- 4-9 ATS in their last 13 overall
- 2-8 ATS in their last 10 road games
- 6-14 ATS in their last 20 games against the Missouri Valley Conference
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Childs, a sophomore, is enjoying a breakout season and his defense is a big reason why. He leads the Braves in both blocks (24) and steals (21) in 2018-19, ranking third in the MVC in blocks per game and fifth in steals. No Brave has led the team in both blocks and steals since Anthony Parker in 1995-96. He is also the only player in the MVC to rank in the top 10 of both categories this season and the first since 2016-17. Missouri State is 1-6 ATS in its last seven on the road against opponents with winning home records, 1-6 ATS in its last seven on the road against opponents with home winning percentages over .600, and 1-5 ATS in its last six on Saturdays. Bradley is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings between the two teams.
Prediction: Bradley Braves
Full-Game Total Pick
After recording a season-high 14 steals in Tuesday’s win at Indiana State, Missouri State continues to lead the MVC in thefts (7.3 per contest). The Bears’ season steals total (117) ranks 63rd among all Division I programs. Defense was the key on Tuesday, as MSU forced 22 turnovers and held the Sycamores to 41.5 percent shooting. The Bears forced at least 20 turnovers four times this season and they lead the MVC with 15.4 takeaways per game and a plus-2.4 turnover margin. In MVC play, the Bears are forcing 17.7 turnovers per contest. The under is 4-0 in the Bears’ last four on the road and 16-5 in their last 21 following a win. It is also 4-0-1 in the Braves’ last five overall, 6-0 in their last six against the Missouri Valley Conference, and 9-4 in their last 13 at home against opponents with losing road records. Look for this one to stay under the total.