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Eastern Washington will try to take down No. 1 seed Oklahoma State in the second round of the NIT on Sunday. The Eagles advanced to the second round with an 81-74 win at Washington State on Tuesday. Oklahoma State beat Youngstown State in the opening round on Wednesday.
Eagles pull off upset at Washington StateEastern Washington got off to a slow start this season, losing five of its first seven games. The Eagles turned things around during conference play, rattling off one of the longest winning streaks in the country when they won 18 consecutive games from the middle of December to the end of February. They won their first 16 games against Big Sky opponents before losing their final two games of the regular season. Their lack of momentum continued in the conference tournament when they lost ninth-seeded Northern Arizona as 7.5-point favorites in the quarterfinals. They bounced back with an 81-74 win at Washington State in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday.
Ready for the next one 🧘♂️#GoEags #LetItFly | @NITMBB pic.twitter.com/g5G61U8xxG— EWU Men's Basketball 🏀 (@EWUMBB) March 16, 2023
Steele Venters scored 27 points and hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 16 seconds remaining to lead his team to the win over the Cougars as 8.5-point underdogs. Venters was the Big Sky Player of the Year, averaging 15.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. He is joined in double figures by Angelo Allegri (13.3) and Tyreese Davis (10.1). Eastern Washington has been red-hot from the floor, ranked third nationally in effective field goal percentage (56.5). It is facing an Oklahoma State defense that is No. 12 in adjusted efficiency. Eastern Washington is the eighth-tallest team in college basketball, which it has used to shoot nearly 60% from 2-point range.
Cowboys out to prove pointOklahoma State looked like an NCAA Tournament team when it won five straight games in Big 12 play starting in the end of January. The Cowboys worked their way onto the bubble by losing their next five games before closing the regular season with a win over Texas Tech. They added a loss to Oklahoma in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament, but they put their Big Dance hopes in the committee’s hands when they lost to Texas in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. Their name was ultimately not called on Selection Sunday, though it was one of the most controversial decisions of the bracket reveal.
Went on the road and advanced. #LetsWork I #GoPokes pic.twitter.com/4bl7dEH282— OSU Cowboy Basketball (@OSUMBB) March 17, 2023
They went on the road and beat Youngstown State by five points as 5-point favorites in the opening round of the NIT, overcoming a four-point halftime deficit. Oklahoma State had all five starters score at least nine points, with junior forward Tyreek Smith and junior forward Moussa Cisse both posting double-doubles. Freshman guard Quion Williams also had a double-double off the bench, scoring 11 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Oklahoma State has relied on its defense throughout the season, as it is No. 261 in effective field goal percentage and No. 317 in turnover rate on the offensive end. It is facing an Eastern Washington defense that is No. 216 in adjusted efficiency.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Eastern Washington is not a team that I want to bet against as a double-digit underdog, as it is one of the top shooting squads in the country. The Eagles have also improved dramatically since early in the season, and they could have made some noise in the NCAA Tournament had they not had one of their worst performances in the conference tournament. They lost to Washington State by double digits early in the year, but they showcased their improvement with a win in the rematch earlier this week. Eastern Washington is 13-6-1 against the spread in its last 20 games and is 9-1 in its last 10 road games. The Eagles should be more excited about the opportunity to play in the NIT than Oklahoma State, giving them an extra edge on Sunday. The Cowboys have only covered twice in their last nine games.
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Full-Game Total Pick
Eastern Washington has been going over the total throughout the season due to its hot shooting, and I do not expect that to change on Sunday. The Eagles rank third nationally in effective field goal percentage and are in the top 90 in tempo, so they like to push the pace when they get a chance. They have gone over in five of their last six games, while Oklahoma State has gone over in 10 of its last 15 games. The Cowboys are not opposed to playing up-tempo games either, and they have gone over in five of their last six home games.