Arch Madness Championship Betting: Battle of the Under-dogs

Arch Madness Championship Betting: Battle of the Under-dogs article feature image
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USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Bradley Braves guard Luqman Lundy (2), Northern Iowa Panthers guard Wyatt Lohaus (22).

In Arch Madness, No. 5 seed Bradley and No. 6 seed Northern Iowa opened as underdogs in each of their first two games, respectively. They’ve hit the under in all four contests, too.

These two Missouri Valley Conference programs will square off in league’s title game, with a trip to March Madness on line. No pressure, right?

Not only have the Panthers (16-17, 9-9) won each of the past five times that they’ve reached the final, but they also represent the last No. 3 seed or lower to take home the crown in the past seven seasons (2016). They would also represent the lowest seed to ever win the league tournament.

Meanwhile, the Braves (19-14, 9-9) haven’t done so since 1988.

Where’s the value in this do-or-die matchup? Let’s break it down.


>> All odds as of Saturday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NCAAB odds and live win probabilities on your bets.


Betting Odds: Northern Iowa vs. Bradley Braves

  • Spread: Bradley -1
  • Over/Under: 120
  • Time: 2 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS

The Panthers (14-17-1 against the spread) have covered in seven of their past eight games while the Braves (15-17 ATS) are 7-3 ATS over their past 10 contests.

These two squads split their regular season series — both straight up and ATS. Bradley was in the midst of a six-game outright losing streak when it lost the first meeting on Jan. 2, though.

Brian Wardle’s crew shot just 29.4% from behind the arc in that one, but has resurrected its perimeter offense since. The Braves own the second-highest 3-point clip (39.1%) and third-highest perimeter scoring rate (32.9%), respectively.

Braves wing Nate Kennell — their third-best 3-point shooter (38.5%) — dialed up five treys in their 53-51 upset victory over top-seeded Loyola on Saturday. The Panthers have let up the fifth-highest 3-point scoring percentage (31.1%) in MVC play, and their motion offense should generate additional success vs. UNI despite Trae Burhow’s sound on-ball defense.

Bradley in is prime position to stymie Northern Iowa’s attack at the other end, too. The Panthers own the second-highest perimeter scoring rate (37.7%) in conference play, yet the Braves are letting up the lowest 3-point clip (31.0%).

If UNI reverts more to its dribble-drive offense, which shot 53.1% inside the arc vs. Drake in the semifinals, it’ll face the 53rd-highest block rate in Division I. The Bulldogs delivered no rim protection without Nick McGlynn (knee), allowing the 6-foot-2 Wyatt Lohaus (27 points, 11-of-15 shooting) to attack the rim at will.

Plus, Lohaus will have to fend off Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye and Bradley’s fourth-rated Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (99.9 opponents’ points per 100 possession) in league play.

If you’re interested in the total, the under has gone 89-46 (65.4%) in MVC tournament contests since 2005, per our Bet Labs data. The two programs combined to deliver the under in 54.2% of their games (32-27) this season as well. I’d lean towards that department.

Let’s buck the trend on the other side, though, as the Braves will go dancing for the first time since 2006.

THE PICK: Bradley -1

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