Sun Belt Rivals: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Troy Trojans

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Troy Trojans
January 13, 2011 at 8:00 PM EST
Opening Line:  Western Kentucky -4.5
Current Line:  Western Kentucky -4.5
Opening Total: 148.5
Current Total:  148.5
Opening Moneyline:  WKY -200 / Troy +185
Current Moneyline:  WKY -215 / Troy +175

Western Kentucky is favored by 4.5 over the 2-13 Troy Trojans

Tonight will represent a first for one of these teams.  Both Western Kentucky and Troy have yet to win their first Sun Belt Conference game this year, as Western Kentucky has gone 0-2 in Conference and Troy has gone 0-3.  Neither team is particuarly good, but Western has managed more wins this year, having won 5 of their 14 gamse, while Troy has won but 2 of their 15.  It’s enough for Vegas oddsmakers to hand the advantage to the Hilltoppers, despite the fact that they have also dropped their last four games (to Murray State, #25 ranked Louisville, Arizona State, and Denver).  Excluding the loss to the ranked Cardinals, however, the games have been close, with Western Kentucky averaging a 6.6 point loss to the three opponents.

Troy’s last victory was December 21st against Western Michigan, and going back before that you have to go to opening night on November 12th to find their other win against Huntsville.  They have suffered two overtime losses, to Mississippi State and Florida Atlantic, so they have been in some games, but have lacked the ability to close them out in crunch time.  That could prove crucial tonight, as the game is probably going to be a close down to the wire game.

Some Betting trends:

Western Kentucky is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games and 1-5 SU in their last 6 on the road as well.  The total has gone OVER In 4 of their last 6 road games.  They are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games on the road against Troy and 2-4 SU in their last 6 against them.

Troy is 1-13 SU in their last 14 games and 14-7 SU in their last 21 games at home.  They are 1-5 SU in their last 6 at home and 3-6 SU in their last 9 against W. KY.  The total has gone OVER in 4 of their last 5 against the Hilltopperse and they are 4-2 SU in their last 6 against W. KY.

The Hilltoppers are led by the trio of Juan Pattillo, Sergio Kerusch, and Steffphon Pettigrew, who account for 60% of their offensive output.  Pattillo, an undersized 6’6″ forward, leads the way for the Hilltoppers, scoring 15.1 points per game and grabbing 9.7 boards a game.  He also averages over 1 block and 1 steal, indicating that he is a good defensive player, as well.  He’s had consistency issues as he has had three terrible games in which he scored 6 points or less.  He was most impressive in the November 27th loss to South Carolina when he scored 24 points, hauled in 18 rebounds, and finished with 2 steals and 2 blocks.  He’s also had 3 games with 5 or more offensive rebounds, so the Trojans will have to work to keep him off the glass and from getting easy putbacks on the offensive end.

Troy relies mostly on their starting lineup and doesn’t go deep into the bench at all.  They have 4 players averaging greater than 30 minutes a game, and all five of their starters average double figures.  Vernon Taylor leads the way with 14.8 points per game, but is shooting a poor 40% from the floor and under 30% from three.  Western Kentucky will be wise to leave him open and let their other players hurt them, if any, because of his inefficiency.    Last game against University of Layfayette, he only played 19 minutes and went 1 of 6 from the floor en route to only 5 points.  For a leading scorer, he is very unreliable, and has had two other games with less than ten points, as well.

It’s hard to imagine a team as bad as Troy being only 4.5 point underdogs, but perhaps it is due to their 14-7 SU record in their last 21 home games.  Western Kentucky is a superior team.  The only question is whether they can do it on the road.

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