Drake Bulldogs (20-1) +2.5, 132 O/U at Illinois State Redbirds
(16-6) -2.5, 132 O/U, Redbird Arena, Normal, Ill. 8 PM Eastern, Tuesday
by Badger of Predictem.com
If anyone is going to stop the Drake Bulldogs from running away with
the Missouri Valley Conference title, it will have to be the Illinois
State Redbirds. The top two teams in the MVC standings clash again
tonight at Redbird Arena in Normal, Illinois.
Not only do the 15th-ranked Bulldogs hold a three-game lead in the MVC standings, but they also have a 19-game winning streak to defend.
Drake hasnt lost since their second game of the year (a 72-76 loss
at St. Marys on Nov.10th), and are coming off of a 10-point win over
Creighton at home and a strong six-point win over Indiana State
(83-77) last Saturday for their seventh straight victory on the road.
The good news for Illinois State is that they are a perfect 11-0 at home in the Redbird Arena this season. The problem for the Redbirds
though is that they arent exactly playing their best basketball
right now. Theyve only won two of their last five games, and the two
wins have been nail-biters by a combined four points, including a
64-63 win over Missouri State last Saturday.
The Bulldogs beat the Redbirds earlier this season, a 79-73 victory on January 19th at Drake. In that game the Bulldogs covered as a 4.5-
point favorite, while the final score came in over the 128-point total.
Oddsmakers have opened tonights game with Illinois State as a slim
2.5-point favorite, with a 132-point total. The early moneyline at
some of the offshore sportsbooks have Illinois State at -154, with
Drake as a +139.
With the graduation of four seniors off last years team, the
Bulldogs rely heavily on senior point guard Adam Emmenecker.
Emmenecker played perhaps his best game of the season last time out
versus Indiana State, with 20 points and eight assists. For the year
he averages 5.7 assists per game (tops in MVC) and consistently gets
Drakes shooters (Josh Young, Jonathan Cox and Leonard Houston) great
looks at the basket.
For the year the Bulldogs score 73.3 points per game on average,
shoot 45.2 percent from the floor, and are strong from behind the 3-
point arc (37.9 percent), including hitting for 10 3-ponters in their
win over Indiana State last game.
Like most teams, Illinois State seems is very comfortable on their
home floor. The Redbirds have been outscoring opponents at home by a
16.6 margin on way to their perfect 11-0 record, and they have beaten
the Bulldogs four straight times at the Redbird Arena dating back to
the 2004 season (and covered all four times as well).
Osiris Eldridge leads the Redbirds in scoring, at 15.2 points per game. Eldridge hit for 21 points last time these two teams met, as
did forward Anthony Slack. Slack has been battling shoulder problems,
but he did play well against Missouri State last game with 6 points
and 12 rebounds.
The big key to Drakes success has been its tenacious defense. The
Bulldogs hold opponents to just 59.4 points per game (16th in NCAA)
and have only allowed MVC opponents to reach the 70-point mark twice
all season (61.2 ppg average in MVC).
Illinois States defense is also strong, allowing just percentage points higher 59.8 points per game (17th), so youd expect tonights
game to be a battle with less than impressive shooting percentages.
If youve been betting on Drake all season, then youre rolling in money. The Bulldogs are 14-3 ATS so far, but two of the times they
failed to cover were on the road (at Evansville, at Bradley). The
Bulldogs have had their trouble against the Redbirds though, as they
are just 2-6 ATS versus them in their last eight head-to-head meetings.
Illinois State is just 10-10 ATS this year, but as mentioned they are a perfect 4-0 ATS and SU versus Drake since 2004. They are also a strong team on Tuesdays, as they are 10-2-1 ATS in their last 13
games played on Tuesday.
Badgers Pick: This would be a great game to watch, except its not on national television. Im drinking the Drake Kool-Aid, as they have
turned me into a believer this season. Plus, they are just playing
better basketball right now. Take Drake plus the points.