Some cable television network needs to secure the last-second rights to show this gem inside McBrayer Arena in Richmond, Ky., because it will typify what March Madness is all about. It will be every ounce as entertaining as Sunday’s Michigan at Ohio State game, and it will provide an early peek to a squad that could upend a big boy or two come NCAA Tournament time.
- Belmont -7.5 at Eastern Kentucky, Total 160.5, Thursday, 8 pm ET
- Action: Over 161
This lifetime series has been dominated by Belmont, 17-4, and the Bruins have won the past 11 against the Colonels. At McBrayer, Belmont has won the past five by an average score of 84-67.
|DraftKings Sportsbook||Point Spread||Moneyline||Totals|
|Belmont||-7.5 (-110)||-345||O 161 (-110)|
|E. Kentucky||+7.5 (-110)||+270||U 161 (-110)|
Against the number, Belmont (24-1, 18-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference) is on a tidy 10-3-2 run and has covered some big spreads—giving 21, 19, 17, 16, 14.5, 13, 11.5, and 10 points in that outstanding run. Nine of its past 13 have gone Over.
The Bruins have hit triple figures once, scored in the 90s seven times—including in three of their past five games—and 80s six times.
As a 12-point favorite at home on Feb. 11, Belmont beat Eastern Kentucky, 92-74. That epitomizes the Colonels’ season, as 12 of their past 14 have sailed Over. At 15-8 to the Over on the season, Eastern’s high totals are only eclipsed by Oakland, whose games have finished 21-6 to the Over, in the country.
Colonels coach AW Hamilton’s “Most Entertaining 40 Minutes in Sports” produces end-to-end entertainment, and we bank on this one being another bona fide thriller.
Off To The Races
Eastern Kentucky (19-6, 13-5) has been pouring it on, ringing up 87 points in its last game, 72 before that in a defeat, then 89, 83, and 93. The Colonels are absolutely game to run, and run, and run some more.
Their average possession length of 15.3 seconds is top-20 in the nation, and their 79 possessions per game rates third in the country. At home, that lowers by two. Belmont squeezes in about 73 per game.
Eastern’s game is sprinting, and the unselfish Bruins will comply with the third-best effective field-goal percentage, at 58.3%, in the game. Belmont connects on its 2-point attempts at a 62% rate, second-best in the country.
This will be the Indy 500. Might both score in the 90s? Yes. Rather than toy with the spread, banking on bushels of points will be the most profitable, and enjoyable, option.
Muszynski On A Mission
The loaded Bruins are led by junior power forward Nick Muszynski, who has sunk at least half of his 2-point attempts in each of his past 14 games. He’s gone for double figures in points in 23 of his 24 games. In his past five, he’s registered 85 points and 29 rebounds.
In his past six, junior guard Grayson Murphy has 42 assists and only 11 turnovers. And in his previous four he has snatched 40 boards. Against Morehead State, his line was 13, 12, and 10—he’ll do it all.
Sophomore swingman Ben Sheppard went for at least 20 points four times this season, including a career-best 25 against Eastern Kentucky on Feb. 11. And junior guard Luke Smith nailed half of his 60 3-point attempts in his first seven games, when he rang up 134 points.
A dangerous squad from many angles, enough to give the other guys whiplash.
Back In McBrayer
The Colonels have played their past seven games away from McBrayer, so they will rejoice in returning to their home confines. They dropped two of those road contests when their foes displayed superior 2-point shooting—60% to 34.1%, and 61.8% to 41.9%.
Before that long highway stretch, Wendell Green Jr., a 5-foot-11 guard from Detroit, went for 95 points in four games, three of them inside McBrayer. He also dished out 29 assists in that span, with 11 turnovers.
Eastern Kentucky’s go-to guy warmed up for his return home by going for 23 last time out in a big victory at Southeast Missouri State.
No Knapper? No Problem
Brandon Knapper, a junior guard who transferred to Eastern from West Virginia, showed immense promise by scoring 73 points in four games over the holidays and into the new year. But he hasn’t played since Jan. 7, as an insider reports he’s serving an indefinite suspension for an undisclosed off-campus incident.
No matter, because Green has four other teammates who average double-digit points in forward Tre King (15.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg), guard Jomaru Brown (11.8 ppg), guard Curt Lewis (10.9 ppg) and forward Michael Moreno (10.6 ppg).
This will be a severe test for the scorekeeper.