Wednesday’s NCAAB Betting Previews: LSU-Houston, Murray State-Southern Illinois
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Galen Robinson Jr.
We’re left without an elite team on the docket for the third consecutive day, but don’t fret. There’s a sneaky good matchup with LSU-Houston, along with Murray State-Southern Illinois in a battle of mid-majors vying for the NCAA tournament.
Which sides deliver more value? Let’s breakdown the games.
>> All odds as of Tuesday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NCAAB odds and track your bets.
Murray State Racers at Southern Illinois Salukis
- Spread: Southern Illinois -3
- Over/under: 135
- Tip: 8 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ESPN+
Southern Illinois (7-3 against the spread) took down Saint Louis — another mid-major contender — on last Tuesday, but Murray State (5-0 ATS) presents a more difficult defensive challenge via the 6-foot-3, 175-pound Ja Morant (24.2 points per game).
The sophomore point guard owns the highest assist rate (53.6%) in college basketball, and Southern Illinois doesn’t present a defender who matches up well with his athleticism and quickness. Morant’s prowess for creating in the lane has helped boost Murray State to the 11th-highest 2-point percentage in the country (58.2%).
Surprisingly, the Racers have slowed down their average possession length from last season, sitting at No. 261 in that department. But it showcases their ability to set up in the halfcourt with a Salukis’ attack that does the same (No. 281).
Murray State’s defense will also give SIU fits, particularly from the perimeter. The Racers are yielding the fourth-lowest effective field goal percentage (41.4%) in the country, guided by the lowest 3-point clip allowed (20.7%). The Salukis’ elite 3-point shooting (40.1%) will struggle as a result.
Barry Hinson’s squad owns a 21.9% turnover rate as well, and it’ll have issues handling the ball on the dribble drive against the Racers’ miscue-forcing bunch (23.7% opponents’ turnover rate).
To make matters worse, Armon Fletcher — SIU’s leading scorer (13.5 ppg) and rebounder (6.0 rpg) — is questionable due to a suspension.
According to our data at Bet Labs, Murray State is 6-2 (75%) ATS in the past two-plus seasons when getting at least three points. Expect Matt McMahon’s unit to boost that percentage after this matchup.
THE PICK: Racers +3
LSU Tigers at Houston Cougars
- Spread: Houston -6.5
- Over/under: 137
- Tip: 9 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ESPN2
This contest will be decided by tempo, as the Tigers (4-5 ATS) rank No. 154 in average possession length while the Cougars (5-2-1 ATS) sit at No. 324.
I’m favoring Houston’s 30th-rated Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (94.2 Points Per 100 Possessions) with some of the better on-ball defenders in the nation, led by the 6-foot-1 Corey Davis. He’ll be able to slow down LSU point guard Tremont Waters (11.4 points per game) considerably, and it doesn’t hurt that Waters has exhibited concerns with his handles, amassing a 32.0% turnover rate.
The Tigers (No. 22 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency) do have a size mismatch, especially with 6-foot-10 Naz Reid (12.1 points per game), yet we’ve seen the Cougars handle a couple of lengthier teams in Oregon and Oklahoma State. Kelvin Sampson’s crew was plus-11 on the glass against the Cowboys this past Saturday as well.
Houston’s offense shouldn’t have much of an issue breaking down LSU’s average defense with two sound ball handlers in Davis (27.8% assist rate) and Galen Robinson (32.4% assist rate). There’s also a possibility that Cougars guard Dejon Jarreau makes his return after missing the past seven games because of eligibility concerns and a sprained MCL.
With the Tigers manufacturing the 44th-worst perimeter defense (38.3%) in the country, expect Houston to attack with its 35.7 3-point percentage before the inside begins to leak open.
The Cougars are 15-11-1 (57.7%) when laying at least six points over the past two-plus seasons, per Bet Labs. They’ll continue that trend Wednesday evening.
THE PICK: Houston -6.5