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Sneaky good matchup here is the Missouri Tigers host the Northern Kentucky Norse. Missouri picked up a big win over Incarnate Word in their opener, while Northern Kentucky pummeled a non-Division 1 team. Oddsmakers have the Tigers as a double-digit favorite for this one.
Northern Kentucky Coming Off Tourney BidNorthern Kentucky has quietly become a very good mid-major team in recent years. Last season they finished with a 26-8 record and won the Horizon League tournament to make it into the NCAA tournament. They fell to Texas Tech in the first round, but they put up a respectable showing, building a lot of excitement for the future of the program. They lost leading scorer Drew McDonald to graduation which was a huge loss, but fortunately, they return most of their other key pieces. They brought back guards Jalen Tate and Tyler Sharpe, who were both elite 3-point shooters last season. They also added an intriguing junior college transfer in Bryson Langdon.
Anyone else see that Northern Kentucky inbounds play? pic.twitter.com/96X8S02FpM— Kyle Neddenriep (@KyleNeddenriep) January 12, 2019
He scored 20 points in Northern Kentucky's opener, showing that he could be a key piece this season. He knocked down five threes, and together with Tate and Sharpe they're going to have a lot of shooting. According to Advanced analytics site kenpom.com, Northern Kentucky finished with the 76th-best offense in the nation last year, and I don't see any reason to believe it can't be that good again this year. Oddsmakers and most analytics sites seem to expect Northern Kentucky to take a step back because of McDonald's departure, but I wouldn't be so sure of that. They added a couple of good transfers, and return some solid talent. I'm excited to watch them in the Horizon League this season, and they showed last year they can hang around against tough competition
Missouri Back?Missouri had a bit of a disappointing season last year. They got hit hard by an injury to Jontay Porter, and ended up finishing the year just 15-17. They went 5-13 in SEC play, and didn't end up making any postseason tournaments. Porter left to the NBA, and he wasn't the only key departure. Leading scorer Jordan Geist graduated, and he is not going to be easy to replace. Despite that, most people seem to think Missouri is going to take a big step forward this season. After finishing last season 68th in Kenpom's rankings, they started off this season 36th. They're projected to have a very good defense, but I'm not so sure they will be able to slow down Northern Kentucky's elite shooting.
Even against a cakewalk team like Incarnate Word, Missouri's offense didn't look that great, as they shot just 7-31 from three and turned the ball over 14 times. They dominated because of their physical advantage, but they won't have as large of a one here. Freshman Kobe Brown looks like a legit piece, but it's not like Missouri had some sort of epic recruiting class which would justify this huge launch up the rankings. I certainly think Missouri has a chance to be competitive in the SEC this year, but it's important not to let the hype get out of control too early. Missouri often beats up on weaker competition like Incarnate Word but that isn't the case against better teams, as they are just 4-9 against the spread in their last 13 games against teams with winning records.
Trends, courtesy of Covers.com: Tigers are:
- 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record
- 3-11-1 ATS in their last 15 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I think the spread is pretty inflated and that Northern Kentucky is a very good play here. I'm not quite sure why oddsmakers and analytics sites are so high on Missouri this year, as they didn't add that many impressive pieces while losing the leading scorer. Northern Kentucky has really solid three-point shooting, and I think they're better than Missouri in that department. Northern Kentucky made the NCAA tournament last year, and they added a couple of key transfers while retaining most of their pieces. This one is going to be closer than a lot of people think, and it wouldn't shock me if this one is decided in the final couple minutes.
Prediction: NKU +13.5
Full-Game Total Pick
I also like the under a lot here. Missouri's strength is definitely their defense, and their offense didn't look that impressive in their opener even against a team like Incarnate Word. They shot just 7-31 from 3, and if their shooting woes continue here then this one is going to be pretty low scoring. Northern Kentucky knows they're playing against a much better team physically, so I don't think they're going to push the pace too much here. Both teams are missing their leading scorer from a season ago, and I'm not expecting a ton of fireworks here.