NCAA Basketball Pick: Eastern Illinois +4 over SE Missouri State

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 6, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Eastern Illinois won four of its last five games including a win over Murray State, losing only to top seeded Belmont, and the Panthers should be able to slow the pace vs. SE Missouri State.

In the opening round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament on Wednesday night, one of the matchups is a stark contrast in styles as the Eastern Illinois Panthers (11-20, 4-11 away) take on the SE Missouri State Redhawks (16-15, 6-9 away) at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, TN at 9:00 ET.

The point spread at Bookmaker Sportsbook has Eastern Illinois as a moderate underdog for this contest with the current line at +4 with odds of -110.

The Ohio Valley Conference was the conference that sent Murray State to the NCAA Tournament last season, although the Racers are only the second seed in the tournament this season behind the conference newcomers from Belmont.

These two teams playing in this contest would love to advance far enough to get another crack at one of those top two seeds, especially since they both own recent wins over Murray State! The outcome of this contest should ultimately be decided by who wins the tempo battle though, and we think that the underdogs from Eastern Illinois have an excellent chance to slow the pace of this contest down to their liking.

Yes, the Panthers were only 11-20 on the season, but they closed out the season strong by winning four of their last five games with the only loss coming vs. Belmont. Among the wins in those last five games was a home win over Murray State and a win over Northern Illinois out of the MAC on the road on BracketBuster Saturday.

The Panthers have a deliberate methodical offense that is ranked 344th out of 347 Division I teams with a tempo rating of 59.9 possessions per game, and they were able to keep all four of those late season wins to 61 possessions or less. They also shot the ball extremely well at an even 50.0 percent over those last five games, including going a cumulative 90-for-176 from the field in the four wins for an excellent 51.1 percent!

Now SE Missouri State won its last two games including ending the season with an unexpectedly easy 84-68 win over Murray State on the road, a win that allowed the Redhawks to finish the season above .500 overall.

The Redhawks are the polar opposite of the Panthers when it comes to playing style as SE Missouri likes to run, ranking 67th in the nation with 68.4 possessions per game. However, we feel that their offense will be held back here because we see Eastern Illinois winning the tempo battle.

The reason we feel that way is because the Redhawks apply absolutely no defensive pressure, ranking 343rd in the country or fifth to last in defensive turnover percentage at just 15.1 percent, a full five percentage points less than the national average of 20.1 percent! Comparatively, Eastern Illinois is above average in that category in 90th at 21.5 percent.

With Eastern Illinois under no pressure and expected to win the turnover battle, look for the Panthers to slow the pace down enough to snatch the cover at the very least in the Ohio Valley Tournament on Wednesday.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Eastern Illinois +4 (-110)

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