Northern Iowa vs. Saint Louis Odds & Picks: Wednesday’s NIT Moneyline Bet to Make
Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Ben Jacobson (UNI)
- The Northern Iowa Panthers and Saint Louis Billikens take the floor in the NIT on Wednesday night.
- Both teams are typically some of the best in mid-major college hoops.
- Check out our staff's top bet for this game below.
Northern Iowa vs. Saint Louis Odds
|Northern Iowa Odds|
-110o / -110u
|Saint Louis Odds|
-110o / -110u
Northern Iowa had a great season. Two-time MVC Player of the Year AJ Green led a stellar offensive campaign that saw the Panthers take home the MVC regular season title on the final day — with an overtime win over Loyola no less.
But the Ramblers got their revenge and proved too strong for the Panthers in the MVC Tournament. As a result, Northern Iowa is here at the NIT.
UNI will get Saint Louis, which had a bit of a rambling season. The Billikens started 2-2 in A-10 play, then won six straight conference games and finally lost four of their next six.
Saint Louis couldn’t get by Davidson in the A-10 Tournament, and Travis Ford finds his squad here in the NIT.
The Billikens are laying four points in the first round. Is that too many for a high-variance Panthers team?
Northern Iowa had a very interesting season. It started out pretty awful, losing back-to-back home games to Nicholls State and Vermont. The Panthers ended up being 14-4 in conference play and won the MVC regular season title, though.
The Panthers are a very difficult team to play if you are not ready for them. They have an incredible scorer in Green, who averaged 18.8 points per game and shot over 37% from behind the arc.
The Panthers run a ton of pick-and-roll and are incredibly efficient in doing so, ranking 10th in the nation in Point per Possession. Running that much pick-and-roll allows them to have incredible spacing with a ton of shooters all over the floor that can also get to the rim at a high rate (60 FG% at the rim, per HoopMath).
The problem with UNI is its defense is so unbelievably bad. It’s honestly surprising it was able to win the MVC with the 326th-ranked half-court defense, per ShotQuality.
The Panthers can’t defend at the rim (330th in PPP allowed the rim), they can’t defend behind the arc (277th in 3 point FG% allowed, per KenPom) and they are horrible at forcing teams into bad shots (324th in shot selection defense).
So, if they are going to get by Saint Louis, it’s going to be because of their offense.
By Alex Hinton
Saint Louis lost its best player in senior guard Javonte Perkins to a torn ACL before the start of the season. His injury forced his teammates to step into larger roles, and guards Yuri Collins and Gibson Jimerson answered the bell.
Collins emerged into one of the best points in the country in his sophomore season. He averages 11.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and a nation-leading 7.9 assists per game. Jimerson leads the team in scoring at 16.2 points per game and shoots 41.9% from beyond the arc.
Saint Louis ranks 60th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 48th in 3-point percentage. In conference play, it was the second-best 3-point shooting team in the A-10.
The Billikens are also 24th in offensive rebounding percentage. Forward Francis Okoro leads the team with 2.7 offensive rebounds per game — as part of his eight rebounds per contest — to go along with 10.8 points.
Saint Louis ranks 72nd in adjusted defensive efficiency. It ranks 61st with 18.1 fouls committed per game, which it largely got away with because opponents shot 67% at the foul line.
The Billikens may not be so lucky in that area against UNI.
Northern Iowa vs. Saint Louis Betting Pick
Whenever Northern Iowa is catching points, I look the Panthers’ way.
Because, as mentioned, the Panthers are super high-variance. They chuck a ton of 3s (65th in 3-point rate) and allow a ton of 3s (second in opponent 3-point rate). Every game for the Panthers devolves into a shooting contest, and it’s the great equalizer.
I am conflicted because KenPom does make this spread Saint Louis -6. And there is nothing about Northern Iowa’s defense that excites me.
But it’s not like Saint Louis’ defense is enticing, either. The Billikens finished second-to-last in the A-10 in defending off-the-dribble 3s, per ShotQuality, and Northern Iowa chucks a 3 off-the-dribble at the fifth-highest frequency nationally.
Given the chaotic nature of Northern Iowa games, it’s always smart to target the Panthers as an underdog — especially on the ML.
Right now, UNI is still being offered at +160 at Caesars and PointsBet. I’m willing to throw a small dart with my Panthers at that price, who have gone 5-4 SU as an underdog this season.
Pick: Northern Iowa ML +160 (Play to +150)
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