BANKER (Sacred Heart vs. Columbia)
Sacred heart is a mid-major team that most people don’t see too often as the play in the NEC against teams like Bryant and Merrimack. Sacred heart is off to a tough start to the year with only a 3-7 record, but they’ve played a tough schedule filled with a lot of road games against superior teams. Sacred heart has also been competitive in most of their games as 4 of their 8 losses are by 10 point or less. Sacred heart is led by talented Junior guard, Tyler Thomas, who is averaging 21/4/2 on 45% shooting and 35% from deep.
Thomas will undoubtedly be the best player on the court in this matchup and I think this will have sacred heart a large advantage done the stretch when plays break down as Thomas is the type of player who can get you a bucket on broken possessions. They face Columbia who comes in with an identical 3-8 record so why are they a 4.5-point dog at home? Well Columbia has just been dreadful on the defensive end this year as they are 350th out of 358 qualified teams in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Columbia has really struggled against good offensive teams this year as they allowed 89 to Colgate, 98 to UMBC, 79 to Lehigh, and 82 to Marist. Those teams, other than Colgate, are just marginally above average offenses and the offensive attack from sacred heart is definitely the strong suit and identity of their team. Bottom line in this matchup is that I don’t believe Columbia is going to be able to get enough stops on the defensive end to keep them in the game. I think Tyler Thomas and a balanced sacred heart attack will west Columbia down over the course of the game and lead them to a win here. Score prediction: 81-72 Sacred Heart
Chicago state is historically one of the worst teams in the country so it’s surprising to see them get any type of respect from oddsmakers with a +2 line here but it’s for good reason. Chicago state has actually been somewhat respectable this year as they’re 3-6 and have racked up 2 wins against D1 opponents and they’ve done it with their defense. In their wins they allowed only 49 points to Tennessee State and 56 to SIU-Edwardsville. Chicago state gets a favorable matchup here with northern Illinois who has one of the worst offenses in the nation.
They are 344th in offensive efficiency, 342nd in effective FG%, 357th in 2P percentage (2nd to last), and dead last in the country in block percentage, meaning that no team in the nation gets more shots blocked on a per shot basis than northern Illinois. I think Chicago state wins a hard-fought low scoring game at home in this one. Score Prediction: 61-58 Chicago State
Indiana state is a team who has somewhat been disappointing to start the year. They’ve proved themselves as a solid mid major program over the past few years out of the Missouri valley conference but are off to a 4-5 start this year. The good news for Indiana state is that their losses have been to the likes of Purdue, Loyola-Chicago, Oklahoma, and New Mexico State, who all look to be very good teams.
They face North Dakota state who is off to a 6-4 start that is due partly because of a weak schedule. They have 2 wins against D2/D3 teams, wins against Cal Poly/CSUN (who might as well be D2/D3 teams), and their most impressive wins are against Idaho and Tarleton state. Overall, I think Indiana state has more talent and is way more prepared for this game due to the stiff level of competition that they’ve played so far this season. Score prediction: 72-64 Indiana StateParlay: Chicago St ML/Indiana St ML +357 (4.57) at BetUS