Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#771 Northern Kentucky 139.5 vs.
#772 Missouri -13
Friday, November 8, 2019 at 8:00pm EST
Farout Field at Memorial Stadium, Columbus
Written by Nick Raffoul

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W/L
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#771 Northern Kentucky University
#772 University of Missouri
1-0
1-0
12-20-1
15-14-3
16-17
15-16-1
78
67
68
67

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The Northern Kentucky Norse will head on the road to Mizzou Arena on Friday night as they get set to open the season with a Power Five conference battle versus the Missouri Tigers.

It’s Year Three of the Cuonzo Martin-era in Missouri. The first two years of his tenure have been marred by significant injuries, but he’s also led the Tigers to an NCAA Tournament appearance during that span. Can the Tigers get off to a good start with a victory over the new-look Norse on Friday night?

Horn faced with challenge of replacing McDonald, Brannen

Northern Kentucky comes into the season missing two key cogs from last year’s conference championship run. Leading scorer and rebounder Drew McDonald graduated after winning Horizon League Player of the Year last season and head coach John Brannen moved on to greener pastures to coach down the road at Cincinnati. To replace Brannen, the Norse hired former South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn, who spent last season as an assistant at Texas under Shaka Smart. Horn will have some big shoes to fill, as Brannen led the school to a 26-9 record and a 13-5 mark in Horizon League play last year en route to an NCAA Tournament bid.

The absence of McDonald, and his backup Chris Vogt, who left with Brannen to Cincinnati, will force this year’s group to play a different style of basketball. Under Horn, the Norse are expected to play faster and apply more pressure defensively in an effort to force turnovers, making the post-game a thing of the past.

Northern Kentucky opened the season with a 105-55 victory over D-II Cincinnati Clermont on Tuesday. Senior Tyler Sharpe led all starters with 19 points and sophomore guard Bryson Langdon came off the bench to lead all scorers with 20 points. Sharpe was joined the starting lineup by juniors Silas Adheke, Jalen Tate and Dantez Walker while sophomore Trevon Faulkner rounded out the starting lineup.

Dru Smith, Jeremiah Tilmon expected to breakout for Tigers

Missouri opened the season with an 82-42 victory over Incarnate Word on Wednesday night. Missouri went with its three returning starters from last year’s team in the starting lineup: Mark Smith, Javon Pickett, and Jeremiah Tilmon. Dru Smith started at the point guard spot while freshman Kobe Brown got the nod at the power forward spot thanks to his college-ready build. Tilmon led the team in points with 16 points and five blocked shots in 20 minutes while sophomore guard Xavier Pinson came off the bench to chip in 17 for the Tigers, who limited Incarnate Word to just 26.8 percent shooting from the field on the night.

Most media pundits peg Smith as a breakout candidate for the Tigers this season. A transfer from Evansville, Smith shot a smooth 57.8 percent from the field and 48.2 percent from the 3-point line while scoring 13.7 points for the Purple Aces in 2017-18. The 6-foot-3 point guard also averaged 4.6 assists per game and figures to be the team’s top playmaker this season. He put together a solid all-around performance in the opener, scoring eight points while adding five assists and four rebounds in 25 minutes of action.

It’s hard to evaluate Missouri against a poor team but if there was one surprising takeaway about their game versus Incarnate Word, it was their willingness to let it fly from long-range. The Tigers shot nearly 50 percent of their total field goal attempts from beyond the arc in that game after shooting 41.2 percent of their total attempts from distance last season (103rd in the NCAA).

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Missouri is a team that could sneak up on some people this year. Casual college basketball fans might not be familiar with Dru Smith but the Tigers’ new point guard could become a budding star in the SEC this year. He’s efficient with the basketball, can shoot the ball from deep, and brings an added play-making element to the Tigers that was sorely missing on last year’s team. Tilmon gives them a solid inside presence and rim protector while Mark Smith adds stability and outside shooting at the off-guard spot. Take the Tigers to cover the spread at home in this early-season non-conference battle on Friday night.

Prediction: Missouri Tigers -13.5

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The Tigers didn’t exactly push the pace against Incarnate Word but they didn’t have to with a comfortable lead. With that being said, they got their shots up in an average of just 14.6 seconds on the offensive end and shot nearly half of their field goal attempts from beyond the arc. Northern Kentucky also figures to be a team that will rely heavily on the 3-point shot this season, which should lend itself to a high-scoring game here. Take this matchup to go over the projected total at Mizzou Arena on Friday evening.

Prediction: Over 138.5
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Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.