BANKER (Alcorn State vs Alabama State)
Back to the SWAC I go as Monday’s are always a big day for SWAC teams to play and this time I’m backing Alabama state at home in their matchup against Alcorn St. I’ve backed Alabama State a few times with success this season as they’ve played a tough schedule which should prepare them nicely for conference play. Alabama State has played well at home in their limited opportunities this year going 2-1 including a very solid win over Jackson state in their last game where they were underdogs. Alabama State is led by Texas transfer, Gerald Liddell, who is having a solid season averaging 11/3/1 on 40% shooting.
At 6’8 and with power 5 athleticism, Liddell is a matchup nightmare for most teams and can contest and change a lot of shots on the interior on defense. He’s a very solid rim protector and I think his length will bother Alcorn state in this game. Alcorn State has also played a tough schedule to this point but where they struggle is on the offensive side of the ball. They are 304th in overall adjusted offensive efficiency, 335th in offensive effective field goal percentage, and 347th in 2-point percentage on offense so they really struggle to score.
If there is one thing that Alabama State does well on defense, it’s force turnovers. They are 171st in the nation in defensive turnover rate which is very solid for a SWAC team to be in the top half of the country in that category. Alcorn State is 306th in the nation in turnover rate on offense so they really struggle with turnovers, and I think that will plague them here in this tough road conference matchup. I also think Alabama State will get a huge boost from being at home in this rivalry game which will hopefully lead them to a win. Score Prediction: 71-65 Alabama State.
Illinois Chicago hasn’t gotten off to the best start this year with their 4-8 record, but they get a very favorable matchup against one of the worst teams in the nation in IUPUI. IUPUI is 1-11 this season with their lone win coming against a non-Division 1 team. Of their 11 losses, they have lost 7 by double digits and one of their single digit losses was against Chicago state at home, a team many people considered the worst coming into the season.
IUPUI simply doesn’t do anything well. IUPUI is dead last (358th) in adjusted offensive efficiency, dead last in offensive TO%, and 352nd in offensive effective field goal percentage. They are simply dreadful, and I don’t think they can compete here. Illinois Chicago is having a down year for their standards, but they have still played some solid games as they played Dayton, Oakland, and DePaul very tough and overall have way more talent on both ends compared to IUPUI. Score Prediction: 81-67 Illinois Chicago
North Dakota state has become a very solid program out of the summit conference out west. They are off to a 10-5 start and are 5-1 in their last 6 games with their only loss coming to perennial power South Dakota state. In a similar matchup as Illinois Chicago mentioned above, NDSU gets to face a Denver team who is simply really bad. Denver is slightly improved compared to how they’ve looked in last years, but they are still very bad on defense as they rank 310th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, 261st in defensive effective field goal percentage, and 258th in defensive 2-point field goal percentage.
Denver has also played a very weak schedule and still done poorly this season as they rank 342nd out of 358 teams in strength of schedule to this point. Bottom line is that NDSU has more talent and an actual shot to win the conference this year so I don’t think they’ll take Denver lightly and think they will take care of business. Score Prediction: 78-65 NDSU.