Ohio Valley Conference Championship Odds & Pick: How to Bet Belmont vs. Morehead State (March 6)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images. Pictured: Nick Muszynski
- The top two seeds. A split season series. And a matchup of elite vs. elite when Belmont has the ball.
- Our college basketball betting analyst Stuckey breaks down the edge that will decide the Ohio Valley Conference Championship.
- Find his full preview and spread pick for Saturday night's Belmont vs. Morehead State showdown below.
Belmont vs. Morehead State Odds
The OVC tournament has lived up to the hype so far with a number of thrilling finishes in close games. Now that the dust has settled, it’s the top two seeds that are left standing. Morehead State and Belmont will face each other for a third time this season with a conference championship and NCAA Tournament automatic on the line in a league that will get only one bid.
These teams split in the regular season with Belmont easily taking the first meeting — junior guard Grayson Murphy finished with a triple-double — at home by a final score of 73-58. Morehead State then exacted revenge in overtime in the season finale.
So, who will take the rubber match and cut down the nets en route to the dance? Let’s take a closer look.
Is the Moose Loose?
I must note that star Belmont big man Nick “Moose” Muszynski did not suit up when Belmont lost to Morehead State in the regular season finale. And I can not stress how important he is to everything Belmont wants to do offensively through the post.
Including the conference tournament, the Bruins own a perfect 20-0 record against OVC teams this year with “Moose” in the lineup compared to 0-2 without him.
When you look at his role and the drop-off to his replacement, he’s one of the most valuable players to his team in a ll of college basketball. The good news for Belmont is that Muszynski returned in its first conference tournament game against SIUE. Head coach Casey Alexander eased “Moose” into the lineup, playing him for only 18 total minutes against a clearly inferior opponent in a game where the result was never really in doubt.
Last game, he saw his minutes increase to 28, which is actually more than his season average. He finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds against a very stout Jacksonville State front line. From everything I’ve seen, he looks to be at full strength and I don’t think it’s the type of injury that could get worse as a result of playing on back-to-back nights.
With a healthy Muszynski, the Belmont offense is a juggernaut that likes to play with pace and attempt a high rate of 3s. The Bruins also don’t turn the ball over and they are reliable at the line. Throw all of that in a blender and you get an offense that ranks 10th in the country in Effective FG% and in the 96th percentile in overall Points Per Possession.
While the Belmont offense is the engine that makes the car go, the defense has been more than adequate. The Bruins rank second in the conference in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency during league play, per Synergy. Who is first? That would be Morehead State, of course.
The Eagles will bring its vaunted half-court defense (and rebounding prowess) into this title in a matchup that will feature the best offense in the conference against the best defense.
Per Synergy, Morehead State allows only 0.785 points per possession in the half court, which ranks in the 95th percentile (the same as the Belmont offense) in DI. They’re a very versatile bunch that can guard multiple positions with a great rim protector in Johni Broom in the interior. The star 6-foot-10 freshman, who really could be starting at many high-major schools, is averaging 13.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per game this year. He’s a force to be reckoned with.
Offense is where Morehead State gets into trouble as it is not a very efficient unit.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Morehead State has won 18 of its last 19 games with its only loss coming on the road against Belmont. Over that impressive stretch, it has been a bit fortunate, going a perfect 6-0 in games decided by five or fewer points (or in overtime). League opponents are also shooting only 29% from beyond the arc.
The Morehead defense is elite, but has also enjoyed some fortune when it comes to uncontested jump shots.
When it comes to situational analysis, both teams will be playing their third game in four days. However, I’d argue that Belmont holds a slight edge since it has more depth and Morehead State played the second game on Friday night that ran past midnight. Those extra few hours of preparation and rest could make a difference for a Belmont team that has superior depth.
Belmont hasn’t lost in league play with a healthy Muszynski for a reason. And while Morehead has a tremendous defense, Belmont is going to get its points.
I also expect the Bruins to collapse all night on Broom and force the Morehead State shooters to beat them from the perimeter. If they’re hitting their shots at a high rate, they will have a a shot to compete. If not, Belmont is going to score with much more ease in transition and I don’t see a path for an Eagles victory — especially when you consider they will waste more possessions with turnovers and miss more free throws than Belmont.
In a matchup of elite vs. elite when Belmont has the ball, it’s the Belmont defense that is much more reliable than the Morehead offense. That’s ultimately the difference here.
This line opened at Belmont -6 and is available at -5.5 at BetMGM as of early Saturday morning. I wouldn’t bet it past -6, so if it ticks beyond that closer to tip, I would try to get Belmont at a better price live or for the second half if trailing.
Pick: Belmont -5.5 | Play down to -6