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Drake cruised through the non-conference season, finishing with a 12-2 overall record through their first 14 games, which included two Quadrant Two wins versus New Mexico State and San Diego. However, the Bulldogs opened the MVC season with a double-overtime loss to Evansville and lost their home opener to Loyola Chicago to drop their first two conference contests. Can Drake get back to .500 in MVC play on Sunday?
Drake finally nabs first MVC victory
Drake won their first conference game of the year on Tuesday night, taking down Southern Illinois 82-70 behind 24 points from Noah Thomas. Nick McGlynn added 19 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, while DJ Wilkins added 15 for the Bulldogs, who connected on a blistering 13 of their 25 shots from long range on the night.
Darian DeVries’ squad enters Saturday’s matchup ranked No. 130 in the latest KenPom rankings, despite losing two of their first three conference games. Drake is scoring 107.5 points per 100 possessions (77th in the NCAA) and allowing 103.8 points per 100 possessions on the defensive end (189th in the NCAA) through 16 contests. The Bulldogs sport an effective field goal percentage of 55.4 percent (30th in the NCAA), but turnovers have held them back, as they have coughed up possession 19.2 percent of the time on offense (183rd in the NCAA). They are shooting a healthy 57.0 percent from inside the arc (14th in the NCAA), but they do most of their damage from beyond the arc. Drake has attempted 45.3 percent of their total shots from long distance (31st in the NCAA), while connecting on 35.6 percent of their attempts from downtown (108th in the NCAA) for the season.
Nick McGlynn, a senior for @DrakeBulldogsMB, is featured in this week's Scholar-Athlete Spotlight, presented by Enterprise Bank & Trust.
Watch ⬇️ as Nick talks about his career goals and how the team gets involved in the Des Moines community. pic.twitter.com/GbRRXq5j7P
— Missouri Valley Conference (@MVCsports) January 9, 2019
Getting stops has been a bit of a challenge for the Bulldogs, especially during conference play. Through three MVC games, Drake has seen its adjusted defensive efficiency rating jump from 103.9 to 108.1 points per 100 possessions (10th in the MVC). Opposing teams are shooting 55.7 percent from inside the arc (10th in the MVC) and 37.3 percent from 3-point range (8th in the MVC) versus the Bulldogs’ defense through three conference matchups.
Northern Iowa struggling to find footing in MVC play
Northern Iowa dropped their second straight MVC contest on Tuesday night, losing to Illinois State 70-69. The Panthers trailed by double-digits on three separate occasions during the second half, but rallied late to close to gap to 69-67 with seven seconds remaining, but couldn’t complete the comeback. AJ Green scored 19 points for Northern Iowa, while Tywhon Pickford and Wyatt Lohaus added 11 apiece in a losing effort for the Panthers.
— Courtside Films (@CourtsideFilms) October 24, 2018
Ben Jacobson’s squad comes into the weekend slotted at No. 209 in the latest KenPom rankings after dropping their last two MVC contests. The Panthers play at one of the slowest paces in the country, but they haven’t been able to generate enough easy looks in the half-court. They average just 65.6 possessions per game (323rd in the NCAA) and get their shots up in an average of 18.2 seconds during a typical offensive possession (283rd in the NCAA). Northern Iowa is scoring just 98.1 points per 100 possessions (263rd in the NCAA), while sporting an effective field goal percentage of only 46.4 percent (298th in the NCAA) through their first 16 games of the year. The Panthers have shot just 44.1 percent from inside the arc (329th in the NCAA) and 32.7 percent from 3-point range (229th in the NCAA) for the season, but that hasn’t stopped them from launching freely from beyond the arc. Northern Iowa has shot 47.1 percent of their total field goal attempts from 3-point range (16th in the NCAA) and gotten 41.1 percent of their total points from beyond the arc (13th in the NCAA) this year.
On defense, the Panthers are allowing just 102.3 points per 100 possessions (160th in the NCAA). However, opponents are shooting a healthy 54.1 percent from inside the arc (282nd in the NCAA) and they sport a free throw rate of 36.0 percent (234th in the NCAA) versus the Panthers’ defense. About the only thing Northern Iowa does well on defense is clean up on the defensive glass, as they’ve limited opposing teams to an offensive rebounding rate of 24.4 percent (32nd in the NCAA).
- Panthers are 22-45-2 ATS in their last 69 games overall.
- Panthers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 Sunday games.
- Panthers are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 home games.
- Bulldogs are 9-0 ATS in their last 9 games following an ATS win.
- Bulldogs are 8-1 ATS in their last 9 games following a straight up win.
- Bulldogs are 11-2 ATS in their last 13 games overall.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The favorite has covered the number in 17 of the last 22 meetings in this series, however, Drake has struggled in this series. Drake has covered the spread in just 10 of the last 37 meetings and just 1 of their last 11 trips to Northern Iowa. The Bulldogs opened the MVC season with a pair of tough games, but they bounced back with a win earlier this week. Look for them to continue their momentum and cover the spread at home in this conference matchup on Sunday night.
Prediction: Pick: Drake Bulldogs PK
Full-Game Total Pick
These two teams have stayed under the projected total in 10 of their last 13 meetings in Northern Iowa. The Panthers have stayed under in 22 of their last 30 games after covering the spread in their previous game and the under is 4-1-1 in their last six MVC contests. Meanwhile, Drake has stayed under in five of their last six games after covering the spread in their previous game. Look for this game to stay under the projected total on Sunday night.
Prediction: Under 139.5