Evansville at Illinois State
|Date & Time||Thursday March 7, 2019, 9:30 PM (EST)|
St. Louis, MO
Illinois State Redbirds -2.5 -- O/U: 135.5
The Evansville Purple Aces and the Illinois State Redbirds meet in a Missouri Valley conference tournament first round matchup in college basketball action from the Enterprise Center on Thursday night.
The Evansville Purple Aces come into this game as the last-place team entering the tournament, finishing in the #10 position after going 11-20 overall in the regular season and 5-13 in MVC play. The Aces started the season tough with losses on the road to Illinois and Xavier before games against Wyoming, Arkansas State and a narrow two-point loss to Murray State during the non-conference portion of their schedule. Evansville started conference play by alternating wins and losses through their first 5 games before falling off of a cliff, losing 11 of their next 12 games before ending the season on a high note with a win over Evansville. K.J. Riley led the Aces with 13.5 points and 3 assists per game while Marty Hill came 2nd in scoring with 11.3 points per game and John Hall added 9 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game this season. As a team, Evansville is averaging 70.1 points per game on 42.5% shooting from the field, 34.2% from behind the arc and 71.9% from the foul line this season.
The Illinois State Redbirds enter the conference tournament as the #7 seed, finishing the year with a 16-15 overall record, including 9-9 in MVC play, finishing in a 3-way tie for 5th, but losing out to Bradley and Northern Iowa in a tiebreaker. The Redbirds also booked themselves tough out of conference, with losses to Ole Miss, UCF, San Diego State, Georgia and Belmont but also adding wins over Akron, Boise State and BYU. The Redbirds started conference play very well, going 7-3 but a 5-game slide made things unravel near the end of the season, leading to the .500 finish for Illinois State. Milik Yarbrough leads Illinois State with 16.8 points, 7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game while Phil Fayne is 2nd in scoring for the Redbirds with 15.8 points per game this season. As a team, Illinois State is averaging 68.7 points per game on 43.6% shooting from the field, 33.7% from behind the arc and 71.9% from the foul line this season.
Evansville is 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games overall and 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games against a team with a winning record while the under is 10-3 in their last 13 neutral site games. Illinois state is 5-2 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games against a team with a losing record while the under is 5-0 in their last 5 games overall. Evansville is 1-7 ATS in the last 8 meetings between these two teams.
I really want to give Evansville a shot here as anything can happen in the conference tournament, especially in the first round, but the fact is that Evansville was the worst team in the conference and has had little success against Illinois State in recent years. Illinois State scuffled down the stretch as well, but the Redbirds did sweep the season series against Evansville by at least 8 points home and away, so I’ll lay the bucket with Illinois State here.