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Drake Bulldogs vs. Evansville Purple Aces - 1/1/14

Evansville Purple Aces (7-6) at Drake Bulldogs (9-3)

College Basketball: Wednesday, January 1, 2014 at 8:05 pm (Knapp Center)

The Line: Drake Bulldogs -7.5 -- Over/Under: TBA See the Latest Odds

TV: None

The Drake Bulldogs battle their first MVC foe, the Evansville Aces in Des Moines, Iowa on Wednesday night.

Aside from Wichita State, Drake may be the most dangerous team in the Missouri Valley right now heading into the regular season. Under first year head coach Ray Giacoletta, the Bulldogs are outscoring opponents by nearly 10 points per game. Much of that can be attributed to a deep bench where scoring can be found among 8 or 9 players on any given night. This is a good shooting team at 46% from the field, almost 40% from 3-pointers, and 76% free throw shooting…not to mention they are pretty solid defensively. Senior Richard Carter has been a scoring machine, averaging more than 20 per contest. They don’t have any prolific rebounders, so all five guys on the court have contributed to an astounding +4.3 rebounding edge over opponents. They don’t have any bad losses – lost to inter-state rival Iowa by 17 on the road, and to New Mexico State by 11 for their sole home loss a week and a half back.

Drake Bulldogs vs. Evansville Purple Aces - 1/1/14

The visiting Aces of Evansville have been up and down in their non-conference play. This has been a trend in 7th year head coach Marty Simmons’ tenure. But they normally turn it up a notch come conference play. Evansville has a roster full of youngters that are relatively inexperienced at this level and have used the first part of the season to find chemistry. They also shoot very well from the floor (48%) and mirror Drake in several categories. The one that they are well behind in compared to the Bulldogs is rebounding, where they’ve been outrebounded by 2.5 boards per game. They have played the likes of Xavier, Murray State, Butler, and Indiana – which may have something to do with that. Sophomore marksman DJ Balentine has blossomed and is a true scorer – they rely on him so much for this offense, but will have to get others involved more in Valley play.

Being the first league game for these teams, I look for a tight game through most of the game and then for Drake to pull away in front of the home crowd. I’m having trouble seeing the Aces covering the spread the way that Drake has played lately and there are so many more scoring options for Drake right now. I think Drake will cover, but just by a few.

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