Wichita State is playing for big things, like a conference championship and a big seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament; Southern Illinois, on the other hand, is not. That's why the Shockers are favored by double-digits over the Salukis for Tuesday night's MVC clash in Carbondale.
Shockers-Salukis Betting Odds
The NCAA basketball odds opened this game with Wichita State favored by 12 points, a total offered at 120. In the early betting most books then bumped the Shockers to -13, and the total to 121.
Those who think the home dog might pull the upset here tonight could get Southern Illinois at +720 on the moneyline at 5Dimes.
Shockers-Salukis: The Situation
Wichita State went off this season as the favorite to win the MVC again, and at the moment they're tied for first place with Northern Iowa. The Shockers are also in the running for decent seeding for the Big Dance. And that's why style points still count in games like this.
Three weeks ago Wichita State lost a big game at Northern Iowa. But since then the Shockers have won four straight, going 2-1-1 ATS. They held on for a three-point victory at Bradley, then beat Missouri State by 43 (yes, they covered), then pushed 17 points with a 74-57 victory over Indiana State, and last time out won at Illinois State 68-62, covering at -5 on the road.
Wichita State led the Redbirds by 11 midway through the second half Saturday, saw that lead cut to a bucket, but recovered just in time to close out the cover.
The Shockers shot just 37 percent from the floor Saturday, one of their poorest performances of the season, but went 27/32 from the FT line. They also won the battle on the boards by a 40-26 margin.
At 23-3 overall and 13-1 in conference play the Shockers, barring something crazy, are shoo-ins for the Big Dance again.
Southern Illinois looked headed for a middle-of-the-pack finish in the Valley before this season started, and at the moment it doesn't look like it's even going to get that far. The Salukis started 7-4 this season, but have lost 13 of their last 16, and two in a row, after falling at home to Evansville Saturday 72-64. SIU shot just 42 percent from the floor, and committed 17 turnovers, while allowing the Aces to shoot 56 percent.
Just before that, the Salukis lost at Loyola-Chicago 66-62, just missing the cover as three-point dogs.
Southern Illinois has lost eight games by six points or less this season, five by three points or less. But ultimately, at 10-17 overall and 3-11 in conference play, the Salukis are playing out the string on a disappointing season.
Wichita State took the first meeting this season between these teams one month ago 67-55, but couldn't cover as an 18-point home favorite. In fact, while the Shockers have won six of the last seven meetings in this series outright, Southern Illinois has covered six of the last eight meetings ATS.
Wichita State led that game last month by 16 at the half, got the lead to 17 a couple of times in the second half, but couldn't quite get over the hump for the cover. The Shockers shot 50 percent from the floor for the game, and held SIU to just 39 percent shooting.
That game played OVER its total of 116.
Last season WSU swept two games from the Salukis by scores of 82-67 and 78-67; the Shockers covered that first game at -11, but Southern Illinois covered the second at +15. And both those games played OVER their totals, too.
Some Stats, For What They're Worth
Wichita State is shooting 45 percent from the field this season, 37 percent from 3-point range and 69 percent from the line. The Shockers are also holding opponents to just 40 percent FG shooting.
Southern Illinois is shooting just 42 percent from the floor, 34 percent from long range and 70 percent from the stripe, while allowing foes to shoot 44 percent.
Shockers-Salukis Betting Trends
Wichita State is 12-10 on the OVER/UNDERS this season, even though its games have only averaged 127 points.
Southern Illinois is 7-8 on the totals, as its games have averaged just 121 points.
Shockers-Salukis Free Pick
Wichita State has a lot at stake, and style points still count. If the Shockers stumble down the stretch, or even settle for a couple of close wins against teams they should beat handily, it could cost them a seed or two at the Dance. So while tonight's spread might seem a bit much, at least it's not 15. Take Wichita State with your college basketball picks.
Free College Basketball Pick: Wichita State -11.5 at The Greek