NCAA Men’s Basketball Game Preview: Missouri State Bears at (6) Louisville Cardinals
Odds Courtesy of Bovada
For a team that has started out so nicely, Missouri State finds itself in an unfamiliar position as 21.5 point underdogs to No. 6 ranked Louisville as the teams square off on ESPN 2 Tuesday night. College basketball oddsmakers undoubtedly favor Rick Pitino’s team due to its superior talent, but Missouri State is not a team that can just be written off necessarily. The Bears are 8-1 and this will be its first test against a tough ranked opponent.
The team only faces one other ranked team all season in Wichita State. Jamar Gulley and Marcus Marshall account for 27.1 points per game combined, and Gulley also leads the team in rebounding, ranks second in assists, and is hitting 31.6 percent from behind the arc this year.
The 6’5″ senior has raised his scoring average 3.3 points per game and will be a key point of emphasis for the Louisville backcourt’s defensive efforts. Gulley has scored in double figures in seven of the nine Missouri State games this season and he performed reasonably well in the 83-63 loss to Virginia, scoring 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting.
Louisville is 9-1 on the season with its lone loss having come to then-No. 24 North Carolina, on the Cardinals’ homecourt. The team has reeled off four straight wins since that time and none of the contests were particularly close, though Western Kentucky did play one half of solid basketball before falling 79-63. The Cardinals won’t face a big test until Dec 28 when the team squares off against its biggest rival in the Kentucky Wildcats.
The Cardinals sport a deep roster which utilizes a nine-man rotation. That may even extend to ten or eleven men once Anton Gill and Kevin Ware round into form. The leading scorer thus far is Russ Smith, who’s posted 17.2 points per game, as well as 4.9 assists, 1.8 steals, while shooting 45.6 percent from the field.
Montrezi Harrell has been huge inside, averaging 12.3 points per game and 8.7 rebounds per game. Harrell isn’t seeing a ton of minutes, and he was a near non-factor in the WKU game, but in the matchup prior to that against LA-Layfayette, he posted 20 points and eight boards, while hitting 9 of 10 from the floor. His consistency must improve moving forward, though the roller coaster is somewhat understandable given the fact Harrell is a sophomore.
Missouri State Trends: OVER 19-7 in last 26 non-conf. games; 18-7 ATS in last 25 overall; 10-4 ATS in last 14 road games.
Louisville Trends: OVER 13-3 in last 16 overall; OVER 13-3 in last 16 non-conf. games; UNDER 6-2 in last 8 Tuesday games.