College Basketball Odds, Picks for Drake vs. Northern Iowa on January 22
Darryl Oumi/Getty Images. Pictured: Ben Jacobson
- Drake and Northern Iowa square off in an epic mid-major clash.
- The Panthers have a clear edge over the Bulldogs if AJ Green plays.
- Tanner McGrath breaks down the matchup and offers up his best bet.
Drake vs. Northern Iowa Odds
-112o / -108u
|Northern Iowa Odds|
-112o / -108u
The 14-2 Northern Iowa Panthers will host the 13-6 Drake Bulldogs Saturday evening in a major Missouri Valley battle.
UNI has been shaky all season but is starting to heat up. AJ Green leads an offense that loves to shoot the ball, and the Panthers do so effectively.
Meanwhile, there were high hopes for Drake this season, but the team has largely disappointed. Most recently, Drake dropped a home game to 9-10 Bradley.
Can we count on Drake to bounce back from a bad loss, or will Northern Iowa continue to roll?
Drake returned all five starters from last year’s 26-5 team. The Bulldogs also got back Roman Penn from injury, an all-conference guard who would replicate the lost Joseph Yesufu’s production while providing better defense.
Nothing is going as planned.
Drake is 0-5 in Quad 1 and Quad 2 opportunities. It doesn’t have a single win over a KenPom top-100 team, but it has five KenPom sub-60 losses.
The offense really isn’t half-bad. It can be a bit discombobulated, but the Bulldogs mostly take care of the ball and make their shots (25th in spot-up PPP).
Drake will run a lot of pick-and-roll with Penn and 6-foot-10 big man Darnell Brodie. Tucker DeVries — son of head coach Darian DeVries — gets a lot of shots off those sets. You can tell by DeVries’ shot chart:
Image credit: CBB Analytics
Defensively, however, it’s not great.
The Bulldogs are getting pick-and-rolled to death, and big men are dominating them down low rolling off the PnR (1.183 PPP allowed, 10th percentile) and in post-up situations (.939 PPP allowed, 16th percentile).
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs rank 238th in 3-point defense (34.7%).
This mostly falls on the perimeter defenders. The current composition of the backcourt is perfectly encapsulated by this Penn graphic showing in which percentile he ranks in major statistical categories.
The Bulldogs are taking care of the ball, making their shots, but playing lousy defense.
So far, it hasn’t been a formula for success.
There’s nothing better than Northern Iowa basketball.
Every game turns into a shootout. UNI is top-50 in 3-point rate and top-five in 3-point rate allowed. The Panthers also sink 35% of their attempts while allowing opponents to sink 36% of theirs.
Northern Iowa games are shooting contests. And whichever team is hotter generally wins.
There were 56 total 3s taken in UNI’s most recent game against Valparaiso. Valpo shot 42% on its attempts while UNI shot 38%, and Valpo won 83-80 in OT.
UNI scores in droves but allows points at just as high of a clip. The Panthers are 324th in 3-point defense and sub-300 in both steal and block rate.
The Panthers are an overs bettor’s dream. UNI is 11-2 to the over this season, hitting the over at a higher rate than all but one team (Delaware). Moreover, UNI games are going over the total at an average margin of 11.2 points.
That UNI/Valpo game went over the total by 26 points.
Keep an eye on Green’s status for this one. He was scratched in the Valpo game due to illness, but I have seen no injury news since. He’s the highest-scoring player alongside being the heart and soul of the Panthers.
He also will get into battles with other conference playmakers, only fueling Northern Iowa overs more.
WATCH: AJ Green (33) and Isiaih Mosley (43) trade baskets and produce the highest scoring performance (76) from two players in a college basketball game this season.
Northern Iowa hit all its free throws late to beat Missouri State 85-84.
READ -> https://t.co/myfbfNMkkJ pic.twitter.com/e4dYxuuqSl
— Dan Lindblad (@DanLindbladTV) January 9, 2022
Drake vs. Northern Iowa Betting Pick
Drake is 0-5 ATS in its last five, moving to a blasphemous 3-13 ATS this season. The Bulldogs have also failed to cover in all four of their road games and all three of their underdog opportunities.
Drake’s ATS record is just another blemish on the poor Bulldogs’ resume.
Meanwhile, I continue to be bullish on this Panthers team. ShotQuality’s metrics do project some positive shooting regression for the Panthers, based on the quality of shots taken and allowed.
Therefore, I love UNI to get the win at home here, especially coming off a tough loss.
However, Green needs to be in the lineup for this to be playable. The Panthers have some depth and shooters at every position, but they are significantly downgraded when Green is not in the lineup.
So keep a close eye on the injury reports. I’m willing to play some juice on the ML if Green plays, as I’m unsure if his status will affect the spread.
Pick: UNI ML -150 or better (IF AND ONLY IF Green plays)
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