Southern Illinois vs. Northern Iowa
|Date & Time||Friday March 8, 2019, 9:35 PM (EST)|
St. Louis, MO
Southern Illinois Salukis -2.5 -- O/U: 127
The Northern Iowa Panthers and the Southern Illinois Salukis meet in a Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinal matchup from the Enterprise Center on Friday night.
The Northern Iowa Panthers enter the conference tournament as the #6 seed, missing out on the #5 seed and also getting a first round bye thanks to a tiebreaker with Bradley and Illinois State. The Panthers finished the year with a 14-16 overall record, including 9-9 in conference play. UNI scheduled themselves some tough matchups, with losses to Iowa, South Dakota State and Utah State while also splitting a home-and-home with Old Dominion. Consistency was hard to find for Northern Iowa as the Panthers always seemed to hang around a game above or below .500 before rattling off 4 straight wins near the end of the season, but the Panthers fell right back to even with back-to-back losses to finish the year. AJ Green was the lone double-digit scorer for Northern Iowa on the year, averaging 15.2 points and a team-high 2.1 assists per game while Trae Berhow led the Panthers in rebounding with 6.2 rebounds per game this season. As a team, Northern Iowa is averaging 65.8 points per game on 41.9% shooting from the field, 35% from behind the arc and 74.4% from the foul line this season.
The Southern Illinois Salukis enter this year’s tournament as the #3 seed, finishing with a 17-14 overall record, including 10-8 in MVC conference play to finish tied for 3rd, winning out on a double tiebreaker with Missouri State due to a better RPI ranking. The Salukis booked themselves tough early on, with a pair of ranked games against Kentucky and Buffalo, but only losing by 11 and 9 point respectively. The Salukis picked up a couple of solid wins over Tulsa and Colorado State before losses to Murray State and again to Buffalo, but this time only losing by 8. Conference play was up and down for Southern Illinois, starting 2-0, but losing 5 of their next 6 to fall to 3-5. The Salukis finished strong, winning 7 of 10 down the stretch, including their final 3 games to finish in the 3rd position. Armon Fletcher led the Salukis with 15.9 points and 5.9 rebounds in an abbreviated 23 game campaign, while Kavion Pippen had 12.5 points and was 2nd in scoring. Sean Lloyd Jr. added 11.1 points per game and Aaron Cook had 10.6 points as the Salukis’ 4th double-digit scorer and leading assist man with 3.7 assists per game this season. As a team, Southern Illinois is averaging 68.9 points per game on 47% shooting from the field, 37.7% from behind the arc and 68.3% from the foul line this season.
Northern Iowa is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games against a team with a winning record while the under is 5-0 in their last 5 conference games. Southern Illinois is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall and 6-1 ATS in their last 7 Friday games while the under is 5-1 in their last 6 conference games. Northern Iowa is 0-4 ATS in the last 4 meetings between these two teams.
Northern Iowa has been playing well ATS as of late, but with this line being so low, if you take the points, you’re almost saying that the Panthers win this game outright and I just don’t see that happening here. Southern Illinois battled against the likes of Kentucky and Buffalo, and also swept Northern Iowa this season, winning each meeting by at least 7 points. Conference tournament are different, and anything can happen, but I just think this is Southern Illinois’ game, so I’ll lay the bucket with the Salukis here.