Northern Iowa vs. Drake Odds, Picks: Bet Bulldogs in Des Moines (Feb. 5)
Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Roman Penn.
- Des Moines, Iowa, hosts a big Missouri Valley Conference matchup Saturday, as the Drake Bulldogs take on the Northern Iowa Panthers.
- Drake toppled UNI by eight the last time these in-state rivals played in Cedar Falls on Jan. 22.
- Doug Ziefel breaks down this contest between Iowa teams and shares his top bet below.
Northern Iowa vs. Drake Odds
|Northern Iowa Odds|
-120o / -102u
-120o / -102u
The race for the regular-season Missouri Valley Conference crown is on. Drake enters this game tied for the first in the conference, but Northern Iowa is just a half-game behind it. Interestingly enough, this meeting will take place just two weeks after giving us a barnburner that needed overtime. The Bulldogs ultimately were victorious in that matchup, but the only game that matters now is this one, and its result will be impactful on each team.
Drake has been on quite a tear lately as it enters this game on a four-game winning streak. The streak includes a win over Loyola Chicago, which is who it is now tied for the conference lead with. The Bulldogs have benefitted from their stellar offense all season, but can they outshoot the Panthers' snipers?
As for those Panthers, they also enter this game on a winning streak of their own. Their streak is of the three-game variety but has come against the conference's bottom feeders. Though the quality of opponents does not take away the momentum they have gained. Plus, Northern Iowa will have revenge on its mind as it looks to even the season score.
This Northern Iowa team has one theme written on Ben Jacobson's clipboard in the pregame huddle. The clipboard reads "bombs away," as the Panthers are not afraid to take any open opportunity they get from behind the arc. Attempting the 40th-most threes per game has netted them a solid return by the fact they have made 34.7 percent of them, which is good for 110th in the country.
It should come as no surprise that the Panthers' leading scorer is proficient from behind the arc. AJ Green averages over 18 points per game while shooting 40 percent from the field and 38 percent from three. His prowess was on full display the last time he saw the Bulldogs as he dropped 27 points and made five threes.
Green is far from alone as he leads a barrage of three-point shooters up against this Drake team that has given up its share of threes. Shockingly, the Bulldogs have allowed opponents to shoot 34.8 percent from deep which is a tick above the Panthers average. They made 33.3 percent of their attempts in the first meeting, and the variance could be in their favor to surpass that this time around.
The last time out, Drake tried to get into a shootout with Northern Iowa, which almost cost it. The Bulldogs attempted one less three-pointer than the Panthers did, and while they do shoot 35.3 percent from out there, it's not their normal strategy.
Drake is 228th in tempo, and it plays through its trio of guards who are at their best in the half-court. Roman Penn and Garrett Sturtz have been fabulous from inside the arc, as they both have shot over 50 percent from that range. Tucker Devries is their leading scorer and best outside shooter because he has made nearly 36 percent of his attempts from there.
Working the ball inside is their best avenue of success, as Northern Iowa is 327th in two-point defense. While the Bulldogs thrive in the "farther two" range, it seems getting the ball in as deep as possible would be highly effective, with the Panthers being 353rd in block percentage.
Northern Iowa vs. Drake Betting Pick
Drake has to take the lessons from the last meeting and apply them here. Getting into a shootout with the Panthers is a risky proposition, but the Bulldogs still managed to win by eight despite that.
KenPom has the Bulldogs as four-point home favorites. I think that projection is right on the money, but I'll still take the current number, as Drake's pace and style of play will be more prominent.