Sunday's NCAA Basketball betting odds favor the Northern Iowa Panthers as they 're one of the hottest teams in the land at the moment, and are facing the deflated Missouri State Bears.
Panthers-Bears Betting Odds
Some sports books we consulted opened Northern Iowa as low as -9 for this game, some as high as -11; in the early betting that spread seemed to even out at around -10. Also, the total on this game opened at around 112, then was quickly bumped to 114.
Northern Iowa has won 12 games in a row, after disposing of Illinois State Wednesday night 83-64. The Panthers scored 50 points in the first half Wednesday, shot 55 percent from the floor for the game and easily covered the spread as seven-point home favorites.
Just before that UNI beat Drake 69-53, pushing the spread as a 16-point favorite, and just before that it won at Indiana State 61-51, covering at -6. Not only are the Panthers winning games, they're making money, going 7-1-3 ATS over their last 11 games.
At 23-2 overall, 12-1 in conference play UNI trails first-place Wichita State by a half-game, and has probably already secured at least an at-large invitation to the NCAA tournament. A nice seed would be nice, and that's where style points come into play.
With three starters back from a team that won 20 games last year, going 9-9 in conference play, we thought Missouri State had a chance at a top-four finish or so in the Valley this season. But the Bears are going through some tough times at the moment, recently losing three starters to injury/suspension/defection, and consequently, have dropped ten of their last 11 games.
Wednesday MSU lost at Evansville 73-66 but covered as an eight-point underdog. The Bears shot 48 percent from the floor, a pleasant surprise compared to recent performances.
Two weeks ago Missouri State snapped a seven-game losing streak with a victory at home over Southern Illinois; after that it lost by three at home to Loyola-Chicago, and after that it got blown out at Wichita State 75-38.
However, while the Bears are going down the tubes, they are 8-5-1 ATS over their last 14 games, indicating perhaps that the NCAA Basketball odds makers have been overestimating their troubles. And yet, troubles they have, indeed.
At 9-16 overall and 3-10 in conference play Missouri State sits in eighth place in the MVC, and is really just a big question mark at the moment.
Northern Iowa has taken the last five meetings with Missouri State, and took the first meeting this season between the teams, a month ago up in Cedar Falls, 60-46. The Panthers, favored by 14 points, led by a dozen at halftime, let the Bears get within eight early in the second half, then pulled away. However, in the end they could only manage a push against the spread.
UNI only shot 39 percent from the floor that night, but held MSU to 37 percent shooting, won the battle on the boards 37-26 and committed just five turnovers.
Panthers-Bears Key Stats
Before placing your NCAA Basketball pick today, understand that Northern Iowa is shooting 49 percent from the floor this season, which ranks in the top 10 in all of D-1 ball, 40 percent from 3-point range, which ranks in the top 20, and 72 percent from the free-throw line. The Panthers are also holding opponents to just 38 percent FG shooting.
Missouri State is shooting 41 percent from the floor, 32 percent from long range but 74 percent from the line, while holding foes to 42 percent shooting.
Panthers-Bears Betting Trends
Northern Iowa is 7-1-1 ATS in true road games this season.
Missouri State is 4-6 ATS at home.
The Panthers are 10-9 on the OVER/UNDERS this season, even as their games have averaged just 121 points.
The Bears have skewed toward the UNDERS by an 11-3 margin, as their games have averaged 124 points.
Panthers-Bears Free Pick
Northern Iowa is simply the better team here, with more to play for, including NCAA tournament style points, on the road, where the spread is a bit friendlier. If the Panthers can just pull a repeat of the last meeting between these teams, they'll cover.
Free College Basketball Pick: Northern Iowa -10.5 at Bookmaker