NCAA Basketball Pick: Southern Illinois vs. Bradley

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, January 17, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

Friday, Jan. 17, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

It is a thin NCAA Basketball schedule on Friday night, but there is one Missouri Valley Conference matchup with Southern Illinois paying a visit to Bradley.

Home court could make the difference when two of the lesser teams in the Missouri Valley Conference hook up on Friday night as the Southern Illinois Salukis (6-12, 1-6 away) pay a visit to the Bradley Braves (6-12, 6-3 home) at Carver Arena in Peoria, IL at 8:00 ET in a game available on ESPN3.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Bradley as a home favorite for this contest with the current line at -4 with odds of -106.

The Missouri Valley has long had a reputation for having some of the strongest home court advantages in the country, and apparently that trait is fairly consistent from top to bottom in the conference. Even the lowly 6-12 Braves are 6-3 here at home this season compared to 0-9 either on the road or on neutral courts!

Southern Illinois is yet another demonstration of this as the Salukis are just 1-6 in true road games, even though that win did surprisingly come in conference play at Loyola-Chicago. Still, Southern Illinois was 12-40 straight up in true road games the last four years coming into this season, so its difficulties away from Carbondale are nothing new.

Yes, we get that Bradley has lost 10 of its last 11 games overall, but the Braves were also underdogs in a majority of those games including being double-digit dogs in the last two losses vs. Wichita State and Indiana State, and the lone win during this stretch did come here in Peoria on January 4th over a Drake team currently ranked 126th on the Pomeroy Ratings. That is significant because the Southern Illinois team the Braves are facing now are only ranked 233rd.

Now, Bradley is obviously a flawed team but two things it does well are rebound and play good perimeter defense. The Braves are above average in both offensive rebounding percentage at 33.0 percent (against national average of 31.7 percent) and defensive rebounding percentage at 69.9 percent, and they are a very respectable 64th in the country in three-point defense at 31.1 percent.

Southern Illinois has lost to the likes of Austin Peay, Chicago State and Miami-Ohio on the road this season, all of whom rank 216th or worse on Pomeroy, so it is really not surprising that they are road underdogs here even vs. a team that is on a 1-10 run. The Salukis are not a particularly good shooting team with an effective field goal percentage of 49.6 percent, a figure brought down by a pathetic 29.9 percent three-point shooting percentage.

The Salukis are actually good from inside the arc at 51.3 percent on two-point attempts, but they do not figure to get many second chance opportunities in this game. That is because besides Bradley being a good rebounding team, Southern Illinois ranks a dismal 247th 226th in offensive rebounding percentage at 29.8 percent, an offshoot of having no starting player taller than 6-foot-6!

Bradley swept both meetings form the Salukis last season and we look for the Braves to make it three straight wins rather safely on Friday.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Bradley -4 (-106)

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