Belmont vs. Murray State Odds, Picks, Predictions For Thursday College Basketball (February 24)
Joe Murphy/Getty Images. Pictured: Pictured: Trae Hannibal (left), Justice Hill (center) and KJ Williams.
- Murray State is favored in a crucial Ohio Valley matchup against Belmont on Thursday night.
- The Racers are on an incredible winning streak and are undefeated in conference play.
- College basketball betting analyst Keg taps into the matchup and makes his betting pick below.
Belmont vs. Murray State Odds
-110o / -110u
|Murray State Odds|
-110o / -110u
The Murray State Racers have already secured at least a share of the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season title with a flawless 16-0 conference record (26-2 overall). But if they want to own that title outright, they’ll need to take down a team that’s been almost as hot as they have: Belmont.
Murray State moved up to 19th in the AP Top 25 this week. The Racers have not lost a game since Dec. 22, when they fell to Auburn 71-58. They’ve been perfect in conference play and have beaten Belmont once this season, in Nashville, where they dominated, winning 82-60.
Murray State also also boast a 15 game home winning streak that dates back to last season. No Division I team has won more games this season than the Racers.
However, the Bruins have an impressive streak of their own. Belmont has won 10 games in a row. Most importantly, a win here would mean a share of the conference title with Murray State.
In their first meeting, Justice Hill set a career-high for the Racers, dropping 36 points and eight 3-pointers. Limiting him will be a point of emphasis for the Bruins.
Murray State seems to be limping to the finish line, as well. The Racers nearly ruined their perfect conference record last Saturday against UT Martin, who has just four conference wins this season. The Racers did survive, winning 62-60, but the misstep cant be ignored.
Belmont, meanwhile, is playing its best basketball of the season. Four of its 10 wins during this streak have been by 20 points or more. In the Bruins’ last game against SIU Edwardsville, they set a season-high with 20 steals.
The Bruins had won the previous four meetings between the two before their loss earlier this season. Let’s break this one down.
Belmont has a decent amount of weapons, specifically against this Murray State team, that can lead them to a win.
First and foremost is the Bruins’ shooting ability, and it isn’t just one or two players. This whole team is threatening from nearly anywhere on the floor. The Bruins rank sixth in the country in shooting percentage at 49.2%, seventh per KenPom in effective field goal percentage and second in 2-point percentage.
The Racers aren’t a bad defensive team, ranking 20th in the country in opponents’ scoring, but anything short of a top-five defense is in for a challenge against this Bruins team. Murray State’s 2-point defense (49.8%) is 189th in college basketball.
Turnovers will also be another critical factor for the Bruins, who lead the OVC in steals and turnover margin. It won’t be just creating them either, as they’ll need to avoid giving it up as well. Murray State is right on their tails in both aforementioned categories.
While Belmont doesn’t get to the line as much as Murray State, the Bruins have been considerably better than the Racers at the charity stripe. Belmont is hitting 73.7% from the line compared to Murray’s 69.7%.
Murray State won by just two as a 17-point favorite in their last game, so what happened?
The Racers couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn against UT Martin. It was the first time since their win streak began that they shot below 40% from 2- and 3-point ranges.
However, this isn’t something I think we will see again against Belmont. Teams have bad games, it’s going to happen. That’s why it’s so hard to win 16 in a row as the Racers have done.
Murray State’s most significant focus against Belmont will be limiting the Bruins’ powerhouse offense, but the first step in doing that will be not allowing second-chance points. The Racers are better than Belmont off the boards, specifically on the offensive end, where Belmont ranks 291st with just 6.9 per game.
Belmont vs. Murray State Betting Pick
The Bruins and Racers have been two of my favorite teams to bet on for years, Belmont dating back to 2017 and Murray State since ’10. The Racers were one of the first teams I remember winning a bet of any decent amount on when they knocked off Vanderbilt in the NCAA Tournament that year.
In my opinion, these are far and away the two best teams in the OVC and two of the top-25 mid-major programs this year. Unfortunately, I’m not sure the OVC will get two bids this year.
In their first meeting, Murray did get its blowout win, but that was primarily due to Hill having the game of his life. Not only do I think he doesn’t do that again, I believe Belmont makes a point to limit him as much as possible.
The Bruins have only gotten better since their first meeting and are playing their best ball of the season recently. Murray State, meanwhile, had a misstep in its last game, has taken a step back offensively over its last three games and may not be as motivated as Belmont to get this win.
Morehead State is just two games back from Belmont for second place in the conference. Second place secures a two-seed in the conference tourney and the two-round bye that comes along with it. Belmont winning this game would give it a share of the conference title and secure their place as a two-seed.
Because of that, I have no problem taking the points with the Bruins here.
Pick: Belmont +3 or better
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