NCAA Basketball Pick: Southern Illinois vs. Northern Iowa

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, March 7, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

Friday, Mar. 7, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

The Missouri Valley Conference, often referred to as Arch Madness, gets into full swing Friday and the final game of the day has Southern Illinois taking on Northern Iowa.

There could be a nail-biter in the nightcap of a Missouri Valley Conference Tournament quadrupleheader on Friday when the sixth seeded Southern Illinois Salukis (13-18, 3-11 away) take on the third seeded Northern Iowa Panthers (16-14, 3-10 away) at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO at 9:35 ET in a game available on ESPN3.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Southern Illinois as a moderate underdog for this contest with the current line at +5 with odds of -106.

This tournament is affectionately known as Arch Madness due to its location in St. Louis near the golden arches, although another possible nickname this season could be the Wichita State Invitational as the Shockers look to achieve perfection entering the NCAA Tournament.

Nine other Missouri Valley Conference teams had other ideas entering this tournament and the lower seeds are 2-0 so far with ninth seeded Evansville and 10th seeded Loyola-Chicago emerging victorious Thursday. Now, sixth seeded Southern Illinois is hoping to continue that pattern after winning three of its last four games. Granted the Salukis went just 4-13 either on the road or at neutral sites this season, but that seems offset by Northern Iowa going 5-12 away from home.

Yes, the only loss for Southern Illinois in its last four regular season games came vs. this Northern Iowa team, but that meeting was a true road game at Cedar Falls, and as mentioned, neither of these teams played well on the road this year. To wit, it was the Salukis that beat the Panthers back home in Carbondale the first time these teams met this season.

So with neither team being home here, the winner of this game will come down to which team executes better and one area where the underdog Salukis appear to have a clear edge is in the rebounding department.

Southern Illinois should be the team getting more second chance opportunities in this game is it ranks 79th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage while leading the Missouri Valley in that department during conference games. Meanwhile Northern Iowa does not figure to get nearly as many second chances as the Panthers rank a dismal 327th in the country and ninth in the 10-team MVC in offensive rebounding percentage.

That means that Northern Iowa may have to rely on making its initial shots to score points in this game, and that is actually not impressible for a team that ranks 37th in the country in effective field goal percentage, thanks to ranking 46th in two-point shooting and 84th in three-point shooting. But again, the Panthers have not shot the ball nearly as well on the road where they average only 66.4 points on a poor 40.7 percent shooting overall and 32.5 percent shooting from beyond the three-point arc.

Comparatively, Southern Illinois has averaged 64.1 points on the road and although the Salukis have not been a great-shooting team away from home either, their 44.4 percent shooting overall is still much better than Northern Iowa and their 33.3 percent three-point shooting is slightly better.

Thus, look for Southern Illinois to take this game down to the wire and cover the spread as an underdog Friday night.

[gameodds]14/260661/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Southern Illinois +5 (-106)

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