Friday College Basketball Best Bets: Drake on Upset Alert vs. SIU?

Written By Eli Hershkovich on March 4, 2022 - Last Updated on March 5, 2022
College Basketball Best Bets

We’re less than two weeks away from the big dance, but let’s not ignore Arch Madness. It presents one of the top mid-major conference tournaments, including tonight’s quarterfinal matchup between Drake and Southern Illinois. Let’s dig into my college basketball best bets for this contest.

Click on the odds below to place a bet, and continue the discussion in our Discord betting community, as we dissect the biggest games of the day. Stay up-to-date on the top-68 programs with my college basketball power rankings.

Drake Bulldogs vs. Southern Illinois Salukis

These two programs met twice during the regular season — with the Bulldogs winning both by a combined three points. Nevertheless, Darian DeVries’ squad closed as a 7.5-point home favorite in their latest meeting on Saturday, so why has the spread been adjusted by more than three points?

DeVries Missing His Two-Guard

Drake guard D.J. Wilkins (torn ACL) is out for the season, suffering the injury in that contest. The 6-foot-2 guard not only represents the Bulldogs’ premier 3-point shooter (37.1%), but he’s also their best perimeter defender.

Considering Bryan Mullins’ five-out offense revolves around off-ball movement, which Drake already struggles to guard, look for Southern Illinois to generate its fair share of clean shots from behind the arc.

Moreover, the Salukis are manufacturing the third-highest 3-point scoring rate in Missouri Valley play while the Bulldogs allow the conference’s fifth-highest percentage of open shots in that department (via ShotQuality). Mullins’ bunch tallied a combined 40.6% 3-point clip in their two affairs.

Although SIU forward Marcus Domask leads his team in points (15.0), rebounds (5.1) and assists (3.9) per game, the 6-foot-1 Lance Jones should be the biggest beneficiary of Wilkins’ absence.

More from Eli: Top-25 Teams Primed For Early March Madness Exits

Stop The Ball

Both squads play at a slower tempo, favoring the Salukis, but the Bulldogs are one of the league’s most efficient transition units. Nevertheless, the Salukis do a tremendous job at hindering fast-break opportunities.

That’s a product of Mullins, who’s an elite defensive schemer. SIU even boasts the conference’s second-most efficient defense against mid-range shots, which Drake relies on. That has plenty to do with its sound ball pressure and the MVC’s third-rated Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (AdjD) overall.

  • Adjusted Efficiency accounts for the estimate efficiency (points scored or allowed per 100 possessions) a team would accrue or allow against the average Division I opponent.

Drake-Southern Illinois Betting Pick

Each team’s March Madness odds are on the line, and expect the Salukis to hang around within a possession — if not win outright and advance to the Arch Madness semifinals.

Best Available Line: Southern Illinois

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Eli Hershkovich

Eli Hershkovich is a lead sports betting writer with TheLines and Catena Media, formerly with Audacy and The Action Network. His goal is to provide you with data and information to lead you to winning bets. Eli is an avid college basketball gambler — among many other sports — and still hasn't forgiven Virginia for ruining his 2018-2019 Texas Tech futures.

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