Murray State vs. Saint Louis Odds & Picks: Bet Monday’s NCAAB Favorite
Pictured: Saint Louis forward Francis Okoro. (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images),
Murray State vs. Saint Louis Odds
Last season saw Murray State post one of the greatest seasons in program history. The Racers finished the year 31-3, won the OVC Championship and recorded a win over San Francisco in the NCAA tournament.
Their reward for that amazing season? Head coach Matt McMahon hit the road and took three of the Racers' top four scorers with him to Baton Rouge, as he accepted the head job at LSU. The only top scorer who didn't leave for LSU turned pro and the another nine players hit the transfer portal.
So, with a new head coach, an almost entirely new roster and a new conference that is sure to be a step up in competition, how will the Racers fair?
We'll get our first clue on Monday night when they square off against one of the top-five most well-rounded and experienced mid-major teams in college basketball: the Saint Louis Billikens.
The task of taking the reins at Murray State is a daunting one, as you have to try to live up to the success its had for the past 10 years while also starting completely from scratch.
There are very few coaches who would jump at the chance.
One of the best options to do it, though? Someone who's already done it for the Racers.
Murray State welcomes back former coach Steve Prohm, who led the Racers to a regular season title in all four years as their head coach.
He also won the CIT, took the Racers to the NIT quarterfinals and made the NCAA tournament Round of 32. Prohm's worst season at the helm for Murray State was his first, and it went 21-10.
The only returning player for Prohm is DJ Burns, who might not have lit up the stat sheet, but did start all 34 games last season. He knows how to facilitate, create shots for other players and be a leader on the team. He isn't bad off the glass either, and we should expect him to be a major factor this season.
When it comes to filling out the roster, Prohm brings in some serious talent, most notably Rob Perry.
Perry was a standout in his three years at Stetson. He won freshman of the year, racked up over 1000 points and is an elite scorer regardless of where he's at on the floor.
He is the most proven of anyone coming in for the Racers.
What Travis Ford has built at Saint Louis in such a short time is beyond impressive. Coming off of their third 23-win season in four years, the Billikens look to be even better, as they return 70.7% of production minutes from a season ago.
One of the biggest returnees for Saint Louis is Javonte Perkins, who missed last year with an injury. However, in 2021, he paced the team with 17.1 points per game.
Saint Louis lacks depth on the bench, but brought in some experienced transfers to compensate.
Javon Pickett arrives via the portal, and he might not have had big numbers at Missouri, but the slight step down in competition could really allow him to flourish. Pickett averaged 13.9 points per game and led the Tigers in scoring in SEC play.
They also added Jake Forrester — who should find success aside Francis Okoro — from Temple.
Speaking of Okoro, what he and Yuri Collins were able to do last year without Perkins — or much help off of the bench — was nothing short of amazing.
Collins has struggled when it comes to turnovers, but I think that will greatly improve with the help he has around him this season.
This is an experienced team, one that was already great and has gotten even better. I firmly believe it could finally be the Billikens' year.
Murray State vs. Saint Louis Betting Pick
Murray State will eventually find its way to being a competitive team this year. It has the talent and a proven head coach who has done more with less.
However, the Racers won't be able to keep up with the Billikens in their first game of the season.
Saint Louis was a good team last year and has only gotten better, bringing in talented transfers while also returning one of its best scorers from injury.
The experience and chemistry of this Saint Louis team wins in the end, and it'll win big.
Back the Billikens as high as a 15-point favorite in their first game of the year.