Indiana State Sycamores vs. Drake Bulldogs
Odds: Drake -9 1/2, 132 1/2
Game time: 1 p.m. ET on FSMW
The Sycamores face the toughest scheduling spot of Arch Madness when they’re forced to hit the court for a game Friday after finishing their game against Wichita State Thursday night at just after local time.
That’s the luxury No. 20-ranked Drake gets for finishing first in the conference this season and it will make it that much tougher for Indiana State to pull off the upset.
The Bulldogs will need to fight any complacency, though, because they likely have an NCAA Tournament berth locked up with only four losses on the season and a top 25 ranking in their back pocket.
The Sycamores enter this game after a 71-67 win over Wichita State Thursday night as 1 1/2-point underdogs. However, the win had as much to do with a decent performance by Indiana State as it did with a poor effort by the Shockers.
Wichita State coach Greg Marshall was ejected in the second half after a pair of technicals and it seemed to take the wind out of the Shockers’ sails from there. WSU had one of their worst shooting performances of the season, clanking 36.4 percent of its field goals, 33.3 percent of its three-pointers and a pitiful 63.2 percent of free throws.
The good news for Indiana State is that it won despite a disappointing effort from leading scorer Marico Stinson. Though Stinson hit all three treys made by the Sycamores, he made some poor shooting decisions late in the game and didn’t seem his usual self.
Forward Todd McCoy (14 points, 9 rebounds) had a season high in points and Jay Tunnel (18 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks) had his second highest scoring game of the season.
The Sycamores used a full-court press at times to throw the Shockers off and they buried them at the charity stripe by nailing 26 of 31 attempts (83.9 percent). They even out-rebounded Wichita State 42-36, which says a lot for the Shockers’ effort considering the smaller Sycamores have the worst rebounding margin in the Valley.
Unfortunately for Indiana State, the full-court press bit won’t work against Drake. League MVP Adam Emmenecker is the best ball handler in the conference and he leads the MVC with 6.1 assists.
Simply put, Drake has too many horses for Indiana State. The Sycamores won’t be able to bully the Bulldogs in the paint like they did against Wichita State against forwards like Jonathan Cox (8.3 rpg) and Klayton Korver (9.9 ppg). They won’t want to get into a fast-break competition either, because that’s Drake’s favorite way to play.
In two meetings this season, Drake won by a combined 28 points and covered the spread both times. You should take note, though, that the most recent meeting was an 83-77 decision with the Bulldogs favored by just three points.
If you’re looking at the total, you’ll want to know that Indiana State moved up as the sole No. 2 over team in the nation after Friday’s win. The combined 138 points scored jumped over the 125 ½-point total, making the over/under ratio 20-8 on the season.
The Sycamores have incredibly gone over the total in their last 10 games. Nine of the last 10 Drake games have also played over.
Pick: Drake -9 1/2
Covers.com editor Jon Campbell will be covering the Missouri Valley tournament throughout the weekend. He went 2-0 with his plays on Thursday. Click on the links below to see his previews and picks for Friday's other games.
Northern Iowa vs. Southern Illinois
Bradley vs. Creighton
Missouri State vs. Illinois State
You can get more of Jon Campbell's insight on his personal blog on Covers Spaces.