NCAAB Play of the Day: Illinois State Redbirds at Drake Bulldogs

The Drake Bulldogs streak of covers was finally ended yesterday in an overtime victory against the Illinois State Redbirds, winning 78-76.  The Bulldogs struggled from the field the entire game, notably they struggled from behind the arc, shooting just 4-30 from three.  Star forward Shaquan Hemphill was also held in check, scoring just 6 points total in the game. Drake’s offense was not clicking; it was notable that their defense was not able to get stops down the stretch of the game.  Drake had only given up 61 ppg and allowed just 39% shooting on the season ranking them in the top 20 in the entire nation.  

Illinois State was able to strike fear into the Bulldogs and their fans making a solid second half comeback and forcing overtime.  They had a perfect game plan on Sunday afternoon forcing Drake into tough shots, while hitting three’s at nearly 50%.  Drake has been great at defending the three all season. They will not allow Illinois State to hit nine threes in their second contest.

Everything had to go right for Illinois State to pull off the upset on Sunday and it nearly did.  The Drake Bulldogs will be able to fix the problems they had in game one and will feed the ball to Shaquan Hemphill early to establish the inside game and open up the outside shooting.  Despite their solid play Illinois State still turned the ball over 18 times yesterday and that will be a big problem in the rematch.  Drake will clean up their mistakes and shoot more effectively.  I would look at the first half spread and see if it is manageable, but really like this to be a dominant effort from Drake to wash away the taste of near defeat heading into some bigger upcoming matchups in the Mo Valley.  

Play of the day: Drake Bulldogs -17.5

NCAAB Play of the Day: Bradley Braves at Valparaiso Crusaders

Two middle tier Missouri Valley teams face off in what looks to be a defensive minded affair between the Bradley Braves and the Valparaiso Crusaders.

The Bradley Braves enter this contest on a 3-game conference losing streak, falling short of taking down conference favorite Loyola-Chicago in a two game set and dropping a shocking game to Illinois State in a spot where they were clearly looking ahead.  They have had time to process the loss and now get a matchup with a low scoring Valpo team. Bradley ranks 81st in defensive efficiency in the country and  will stifle a Valpo offense that has scored under 69 points in 4 of 5 games.  

On the offensive side of the ball Bradley will have the best player on the court in Senior forward Elijah Childs averagin 14 points and 7 rebounds per game.  He is a do it all player on the offensive end and should be able to carry the load for the Braves.  The emergence of Junior guard Terry Nolan Jr. has been a big part of establishing the Braves offense along with Childs, Nolan has been shooting a respectable 35% from three for the season.  Bradley hopes to have Ja’Shon Henry backin the lineup, his 11 ppg and 60% shooting have been missed over the last three games.  If he is not able to go they should still be able to muster enough offense to grab an early lead and utilize their defense to hold down a Valpo team that has no one outside of Sophmore forward Ben Krikke that has been reliable on offense. 

Bradley’s defense will be too much for the struggling Crusader offense.  Bradley doesn’t allow you to score inside and their perimeter athletes are just better than what Valpo can bring to the table.  If you like a low scoring affair this one will be for you, I would think this game is going to stay under the 130 point mark but I feel more confident in a dominant effort from a Bradley squad looking to reestablish themselves in the Missouri Valley. 

Play of the day: Bradley Braves -5.5

Missouri Valley Conference Preview

The Missouri Valley Tournament kicks off tonight at the Enterprise Center. Everyone’s cinderalla story of 2018 Loyola comes in as the #1 seed and the obvious favorite to win the tournament for the second straight season. Despite Loyola-Chicago being the favorite this entire season has seen a conference that has flip-flopped at the top constantly, leaving this very open to all ten teams.  The Valley will only be being getting one team in the NCAA tournament, so every team will be playing for their lives over the next four days.  Let’s break it down.

The top 4 seeds.

#1 Loyola-Chicago Ramblers 19-12 (12-6 MVC)

The Ramblers will welcome back wing Lucas Williamson for this tournament.  Immediately making the best defensive team in the conference even better.  The Ramblers are not the same team as the cinderella of 2018.  They still feature 2018 Player of the Year Clayton Custer, center Caleb Krutwig and potential Player of the Year Marques Townes.  The Ramblers are the best defensive team in the conference allowing a meager 60.9ppg in conference play. The offense has disappeared at times during the season.  Leading to surprising losses to Bradley and twice to a rebuilding Missouri State team.

The Ramblers rank second to last in scoring offense in the conference they will have to rely on their defense and offensive efficiency if they want to go dancing for a second straight year.

#2 Drake Bulldogs 23-8 (12-6 MVC)

No one expected much from the Drake Bulldogs in 2019.  Picked to finish second to last in the preseason polls Drake put together a great season that saw them lose out on the #1 seed by literally one game, still winning a share of the regular season championship.  Much different then Loyola the Bulldogs are a strong offensive team leading the Valley in scoring and margin of victory.  They are led by two seniors Forward Nick McGlynn and Guard Brady Ellington.  McGlynn leads the team in scoring, rebounding and blocks.

#3 Southern Illinois Salukis 17-14 (10-8 MVC)

A sleeper team that can win it all may be the Southern Illinois Salukis.  A team with great leadership from Head Coach Barry Henson and a group of upperclassman.  The Salukis are a high level shooting team, 37% from behind the arc during the regular season.

Senior forward Armon Fletcher will lead the way for Southern Illinois averaging 16.6PPG, watch out for Kavion Pippen the nephew of Scottie Pippen protecting the rim.  Pippen is averaging 1.9 blocks per game. The key for Southern Illinois will be the play of PG Aaron Cook, if he can play at a high level Southern Illinois could be a team to watch. 

#4 Missouri State Bears 16-15 (10-8 MVC)

The Missouri State Bears took major strides under new Head Coach Dana Ford. Seniors Jarred Dixon and Ryan Kreklow have helped provide great leadership for a cast of transfers.  Ford has gotten the Bears to buy into the methodical approach, running the clock and working the offense until they get their advantage. The MVC newcomer of the year Tulio Da Silva has been a force on both ends of the floor while transfer Keandre Cook can light up the score board at any moment.  The Bears got a great draw with Bradley whom they defeated twice and potentially playing Loyola-Chicago who they have defeated twice in the regular season.

Tournament Prediction:

Session 1

Illinois State defeats Evansville

Illinois State will impose their will, forcing a grind it out game which will play to their advantage.

Indiana State defeats Valparaiso

Indiana State has better shooters that will take advantage of poor Valpo defense

Session 2

Loyola Chicago defeats Indiana State

The Ramblers play tight defense against the 3 and that is the may offense that Indiana State will bring to the table. 

Missouri State defeats Bradley

Missouri State has defeated Bradley twice.  The Bears will impose their will on the Braves in a low scoring affair.

Session 3

Southern Illinois defeats Northern Iowa

Northern Iowa is to inconsistent to match the Southern Illinois offense.  The Salukis will have a huge advantage on both ends.

Drake defeats Illinois State

Drake’s offense will be tough to matchup for Illinois State playing on a back to back nights.