Missouri State has really turned things around since starting conference play, earning victories in three of four games—after starting the 2012-13 NCAA basketball season with a 2-10 non-conference record. The Bears have earned back-to-back straight-up wins as double-digit underdogs, including a 62-55 victory over Illinois State when getting 10 points at home. It’s still important to note that the program is 15-15 against the spread (ATS) as an underdog the last two-plus seasons.
Creighton has made 55.1 percent of its shots in four Missouri Valley Conference games, which includes knocking down 34-of-53 shots in a 91-61 rout of Drake as 16.5-point home favorites last time out. The Bluejays have seven players averaging 5.6 points or more per game, while they enter this fray leading the country in shooting 44.9 percent from the 3-point area. Creighton has won and covered the spread in all three of its games away from Omaha this year.
Downing is the key
The Bears are always worth a look in making your NCAA basketball picks when playing at JQH Arena, as they’ve compiled an impressive 56-22 record inside the facility. In order to pull off another victory in front of the home fans, Missouri State is going to need a major performance out of senior guard Anthony Downing, who is averaging 14.6 points per game. He averaged 20.0 points in leading the Bears to a 1-1 SU and 2-0 ATS record in this series a year ago.
Falling flat in Springfield
Sports bettors may have a hard time backing the Bluejays at the type of price that’s represented on the college basketball odds page, considering they’ve dropped 18 of their 26 games on the road in this series. Greg McDermott is 7-11 in his career against Missouri State, including a 1-4 mark during his time as Creighton’s head coach. Friday night’s visitor is 1-4 ATS in the last five meetings overall.
Strength vs. Strength
The most important factor to handicap in this affair is the 3-point shot, with the Blue Jays averaging 9.9 makes from beyond the arc, while the Bears rank 18th nationally in allowing opponents to shoot 30.1 percent from that area. Missouri State hasn’t allowed a foe to hit more than eight 3-pointers in any game this season.
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Bears as one of their sports picks tonight, as I believe their perimeter defense and Downing’s success in this series will keep them within this number. Creighton might be a bit overvalued after its last effort, as it has gone 1-4 ATS after scoring 90 points in its previous game.
College Basketball Pick: Missouri State Bears +14