It’s a non-conference matchup on the college hardwood as the CAA takes on the Mid-American Conference in the Great Lakes State. The Drexel Dragons are on the road as they travel to face the Eastern Michigan Eagles Friday morning. Drexel finished the 2017-18 season 13-20 and failed to qualify for the postseason. Eastern Michigan opened their 2018-19 schedule with a 77-67 home win over NAIA school Rochester College Tuesday night. This marks the first time that the two programs have met on the parquet floor.
Drexel Dragons Look to Take Next Step in 2018-19
Drexel struggled last season, finishing 13-20 overall and 6-12 in the CAA yet there were positive signs for the team. The Dragons won their most games since the 2013-14 team went 16-14 and their six conference wins matched the total they put up in 2015-16 and 2016-17 combined. It was the most conference wins for Drexel since the 2014-15 team was 9-9 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Based on that step forward, the school gave coach Zach Spiker a contract extension earlier this year despite the fact that his overall record in two years with the program is 22-43.
The wait is over. 24 hours until season opener at Eastern Michigan! pic.twitter.com/3nbSbQBdxm
— Drexel Men's Basketball (@DrexelMBB) November 8, 2018
The Dragons were 159th in scoring offense last season with 74.4 points per game. Drexel was 122nd in the nation in rebounding with 36.3 boards per contest and 315th in assists with 11.5 a night. The Dragons scuffled defensively, which has been an ongoing issue for the past several seasons, ranking just 313th in scoring defense as they allowed 78.5 points a game. Tramaine Isabell Jr. was the team’s leading scorer last year with 21 points plus 7.5 rebounds per game but he went to Saint Louis as a grad transfer. That leaves Kurk Lee (12.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists) as the team’s top returning scoring option. Alihan Demir (10.7 points, 5.4 rebounds) and Troy Harper (10.1 points) return as well, giving Lee a little help in the scoring department. Drexel shot 44.1 percent from the floor as a team. The Dragons averaged 6.9 three pointers a night on 32.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Drexel was an average team at the charity stripe, cashing in 72.3 percent of their chances last season.
Eastern Michigan Eagles Seek 2-0 Start
Eastern Michigan had their struggles but picked up a season-opening win over an NAIA program in Rochester College Tuesday night. The Eagles hope that knocking the rust off in that one will help the team get focused going forward. Eastern Michigan led by three at the half but had scoring droughts in the second half. The Eagles led by six with 12:24 to go before giving up a 12-0 run over the next 3:51 to trail 63-57. After that, Eastern Michigan regrouped, closing the game on a 20-4 run to earn the victory. The Eagles shot 53.4 percent from the field and went four of 14 from three-point range in addition to 11 of 17 at the charity stripe.
— EMUHoops (@EMUHoops) November 7, 2018
Paul Jackson led the way for Eastern Michigan as he poured in a career-high 27 points while dishing seven assists in the win. Boubacar Toure, who had last played in 2015-16 for Grand Canyon before transferring, posted a double-double with 15 points, 15 rebounds plus three blocks. Damari Parris chipped in 15 points while James Thompson IV added 12 in the victory for the Eagles. Eastern Michigan overcame 20 turnovers in the victory: they held Rochester to 38.5 percent shooting from the floor and dominated the glass by a 46-26 margin in the contest. One thing to watch for the Eagles is bench production: they got only two points in 33 minutes of action from their reserves.
- Eagles are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 home games
- Eagles are 8-1 ATS in their last 9 games overall
- Dragons are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 vs. Mid-American Conference foes
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Eastern Michigan had their issues at home in their opener but they at least have had a game to knock the proverbial rust off. The Dragons haven’t had that yet, barring their exhibition game against Clarion, so this is their first test against a Division I opponent. Drexel is going to have to figure out some secondary options to help their returning trio. Eastern Michigan has a lot of experience in their starting five, which is a good thing to have in the early going of the season. Look for the Eagles to take care of business at home and run their mark to 2-0.
Prediction: Eastern Michigan Eagles -13.5
Full-Game Total Pick
We saw Eastern Michigan have a solid enough offensive showing against Rochester College despite the fact that they had stretches where they couldn’t buy a bucket. When you shoot better than 53 percent from the floor, it’s been a god day, and that’s where the Eagles ended up Tuesday. Drexel had their issues defensively a year ago, continuing an ongoing trend in recent seasons. The Dragons are going to have to tighten up a bit defensively if they hope to get to or over the .500 mark this season. Can Spiker help the Dragons take the next step?
The over is 4-1 in the Dragons’ last 5 Friday games, 15-5 in their last 20 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600 and 7-3 in their last 10 overall. Eastern Michigan has seen the over go 4-0 in their last four against Colonial Athletic Association teams. Given Drexel’s porous defense in recent years and Eastern Michigan’s talent in the starting five, this one likely goes over the total.