Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#795 Bradley -3 vs.
#796 Illinois State 136.5
Wednesday, February 26, 2020 at 7:00pm EST
Written by Nick Raffoul

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The Bradley Braves will head to Redbird Arena in Normal, Illinois on Wednesday night for a Missouri Valley Conference showdown versus the Illinois State Redbirds.

With just two games remaining on the regular-season schedule, Bradley is still fighting for positioning in the MVC Tournament. The Braves enter tied for third place in the MVC Standings with a 10-6 overall record and they sit just one game back of Loyola Chicago for the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. Meanwhile, the Redbirds have won just four of their first 16 conference games but three of those wins have come in the past month. Can the Redbirds pull off the upset at home against Bradley on Wednesday evening?

Bradley's winning streak ends at four games

Bradley snapped a four-game winning streak on Saturday with a 90-78 loss on the road versus Valparaiso. The Braves led by 13 points midway through the first half but went cold from the field thereafter and trailed by as many as 15 points in the loss. Elijah Childs led three Braves players in double-figures with 19 points while Nate Kennell added 16 in a losing effort for Bradley.

Brian Wardle’s squad comes into the weekend slotted at No. 117 in the latest KenPom rankings after snapping their season-high four-game winning streak. The Braves have scored 105.6 points per 100 possessions for the season (100th in the NCAA) and 106.2 points per 100 possessions versus league opponents (2nd in the MVC). Bradley ranks near the top of the conference in several offensive categories. The Braves have turned the ball over just 17.5 percent of the time during league play (3rd in the MVC) while sporting an effective field goal percentage of 51.6 percent (4th in the MVC) and an offensive rebounding rate of 28.8 percent (2nd in the MVC).

On defense, Bradley has allowed 100.5 points per 100 possessions for the season (148th in the NCAA) and 101.8 points per 100 possessions during conference play (7th in the MVC). Bradley owns the best effective field goal percentage defense in the conference at 47.6 percent but too many offensive rebounds and trips to the free throw line have limited its ability to string together stops defensively.

Illinois State snaps three-game slide versus Drake

Illinois State snapped a three-game slide on Saturday, knocking off Drake 57-53 behind 21 points from Keith Fisher. Antonio Reeves added 16 off of the bench of the Redbirds, who shot 11-for-30 from 3-point range on the night.

Dan Muller’s squad comes into Wednesday’s matchup ranked No. 225 in the latest KenPom rankings after stumbling through much of the conference season. The Redbirds have scored 98.2 points per 100 possessions for the season (238th in the NCAA) but that number has dropped to just 94.8 points per 100 possessions versus MVC opponents (9th in the MVC). Illinois State turns the ball over a league-high 21.0 percent of the time (10th in the MVC) and it gets to the free throw line at a meager 24.4 percent clip (10th in the MVC). The Redbirds aren’t shy about letting it fly from long-range, where they’ve attempted 45.8 percent of their total field goal attempts during conference play (1st in the MVC). Illinois State has sot a healthy 36.2 percent from deep (4th in the MVC) but only 45.5 percent from 2-point range during league play (10th in the MVC).

Things haven’t been much better for the Redbirds on the other end of the floor either. On defense, Muller’s squad has given up 103.1 points per 100 possessions for the season (200th in the NCAA) and 103.6 points per 100 possessions versus league opponents. Illinois State has forced MVC teams to turn the ball over 19.2 percent of the time (4th in the MVC) but it has allowed teams to shoot a red-hot 52.2 percent from 2-point range during the conference season (9th in the MVC).

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The Redbirds have been trending up over the last month, going 3-1 in their last four home games. During that span, they’ve knocked off a pair of top-200 foes (Drake and Indiana State) and Illinois State also has a quality win versus Northern Iowa on its resume from earlier this season. Still, it’s hard to see the Redbirds competing in this game. Bradley won the first meeting 75-63 back on Jan. 22 and the Braves played that game without senior point guard Darrell Brown. The Braves do most of their damage from inside the arc and the Redbirds have allowed MVC teams to shoot 52.2 percent from 2-point range (9th in the MVC). Take Bradley to cover the number on the road in this battle on Wednesday night.

Prediction: Bradley Braves

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The Redbirds like to push the pace on offense and they aren’t afraid to let it fly from long-range. Illinois State ranks third in the MVC in tempo and first in average possession length on offense. They also rank first in terms of 3-point frequency, so expect them to put together a solid offensive performance here. Meanwhile, Bradley ranks No. 4 in average possession length on offense and No. 2 in offensive efficiency, so I’ll take my chances with the over in this MVC contest at Redbird Arena on Wednesday night.

Prediction: Over
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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.