It’s the seventh-place game of the ESPN Events Invitational on the hardwood in the Sunshine State when Conference USA tangles with the Missouri Valley Conference. The North Texas Mean Green are the “road” team as they take on the Drake Bulldogs Sunday morning. North Texas comes in off a 69-63 loss to Miami in their losers’ bracket contest Friday in their most recent contest. Drake was defeated 80-71 by #10 Alabama in their most recent game, which came in the losers’ bracket Friday. In the all-time series between the teams, the Bulldogs own a commanding 29-6 advantage and have won the last three meetings. That includes a 63-59 home win in the most recent matchup back on December 14, 1984.
North Texas Mean Green Looking to Salvage Finale of TournamentNorth Texas came up on the short end despite a spirited effort against Miami in their losers’ bracket matchup Friday. The Mean Green fell to 2-3 on the season and try to emerge with a victory here to leave town on a positive note. Against Miami, North Texas broke a 17-17 tie in the opening half with an 11-0 run and took a 40-28 advantage to the locker room at halftime. The Mean Green fell apart in the second half and with the game tied at 59 with 4:29 to play in the game, they gave up the next six points while going scoreless for more than four minutes. That sealed their fate and sent them to defeat. The Mean Green shot 43.4% from the field, including 13 of 28 from three-point range, but allowed Miami to shoot 54.2% in the game. Thomas Bell led North Texas with 18 points in the victory.
The Mean Green puts up an average of 67.2 points per game on the season, which is 266th in the nation. North Texas hauls down 33.4 boards per contest and passes out 11.6 assists per game. The Mean Green is stifling on the defensive end of the floor, ranking 48th by allowing 59.6 points a night. North Texas is led by Tylor Perry, who leads the team with 17.8 points plus two steals per game on the year. Thomas Bell (14.4 points, 7.2 rebounds), Mardrez McBride (8.8 points) and Abou Ousmane (eight points, 5.6 rebounds) are good scoring options. JJ Murray, Rubin Jones, Hameir Wright and Aaron Scott all have to contribute for the Mean Green to have success. North Texas is shooting 42% from the field as a team this season. The Mean Green hits 8.8 three-pointers a night while shooting 31.9% from beyond the arc. North Texas is struggling at the free throw line as they shoot 67.5% as a team at the stripe.
Drake Bulldogs Try to Snap Skid at TwoDrake started the year at 3-0 but they’ve dropped two straight here in the Sunshine State as they fell to #10 Alabama Friday. The Bulldogs come in 3-2 and look to avoid falling to the .500 mark on the season. Against Alabama, Drake led by four in the first half before giving up a 23-4 run to trail 33-18 with 3:48 to go in the half. The Bulldogs rallied with an 11-0 run to cut the deficit to four at halftime. Drake evened the game at 61 with 5:16 to play before getting outscored 13-3 over the next three minutes to trail 74-64 with 2:13 to go and they couldn’t come back down the stretch. The Bulldogs shot 42.9% from the field, including seven of 19 from three-point range, but hurt themselves by going 10 of 17 at the charity stripe. D.J. Wilkins led Drake with 17 points in the contest.
The Bulldogs put up an average of 79.8 points per game this season, putting them 63rd in the nation in scoring offense. Drake collects 36.8 rebounds a night while dishing out 12.6 assists per game. The Bulldogs are above average on the defensive end, ranking 149th in scoring defense by allowing 67 points per game. Tremell Murphy leads the team with 13.8 points plus seven boards per game this season. Roman Penn (10.4 points, 4.4 assists) and Tucker Devries (11.8 points, 4.2 boards) are each scoring in double figures this season. D.J. Wilkins, Garrett Sturtz, Darnell Brodie, ShanQuan Hemphill, Okay Djamgouz, Ayo Akinwole and Nate Ferguson are important contributors for the Bulldogs. Drake is shooting 46.3% from the field as a team this season. The Bulldogs average 9.8 three-pointers a night while shooting a blistering 41.2% from beyond the arc. Drake is below average at the charity stripe this season as they convert 68.8% of their chances on the year.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
We’re looking at two teams that have each dropped their two contests here in the Sunshine State. Drake fell to Belmont and Alabama while North Texas was beaten by Kansas along with Miami in the first two rounds. North Texas had a big three-point shooting night against Miami but it didn’t deliver a victory for them. They’ll have their work cut out for them here against a veteran Drake team that has some good pieces. Drake will test North Texas defensively with their perimeter shooting. We saw the Bulldogs rally to tie the game down the stretch against Alabama and that gives them some confidence. Look for Drake to come up with the victory here.
Full-Game Total Pick
North Texas stayed under the total in three of their four games against Division I foes this season after edging past the number in the game against Miami. The Mean Green are 351st in tempo with an average of 63.8 possessions per game this season. North Texas is just 247th in effective field goal percentage (46.7%) and they are 16th as 49.3% of their shots from the floor have come from beyond the arc. Drake is 57th in offensive efficiency, 102nd in effective field goal percentage (52.2%) and 36th in three-point shooting. The Bulldogs are a middle of the pack team tempo wise by averaging 68.8 possessions a night this season, leaving them 177th in the nation. You have to think that the Mean Green will make stops on the defensive end of the floor and that keeps this one short of the total.