One of the country’s most-entertaining teams hits the court tonight in Martin, Tenn., against a program from the other end of the spectrum. It’s an NCAA basketball betting spotlight that will provide useful information for the coming March Madness.
- Eastern Kentucky -13 at Tennessee-Martin, Total 149, Wednesday, 9 pm ET
- Action: Over 149
Third-year Eastern boss AW Hamilton endured a cancer scare over the summer, and he’s vowed to tirelessly raise awareness for regular medical exams to the masses. He will undergo regular check-ups, but follow-up news has been excellent for him, and his wife and three young children.
On the hardwood, Hamilton and his troops seem to relish even more his famed “Most Exciting 40 Minutes in Sports.” It’s a fast-paced thrill ride, which produced an incredible 113-73 thumping of Tennessee-Martin on Jan. 21, and we’re expecting more of the same inside Skyhawk Arena.
|William Hill||Point Spread||Totals|
|Eastern Kentucky||-13 (-110)||O 149 (-110)|
|Tennessee-Martin||+13 (-110)||U 149 (-110)|
Tough Sledding For Skyhawks
Eastern’s 79.3 possessions per game rank third in the country. On the road, that ratchets up to 80.8, second only to Bryant’s 82.8. The Colonels’ average possession length of 15.3 seconds is 15th in the nation. They’ll run and run, then run some more.
Martin (7-13)—which has dropped four of its past six, and endured a nine-game losing streak that included that blasting by Eastern—does not like to run. It averages 69 possessions at home, in the bottom quarter of college hoops.
It can be as deliberate as it wants, but Martin is a bad team that is one of the country’s poorest-shooting squads, at 41.2% inside the arc. Those many misses will propel Eastern on many sprints.
Plus, Eastern guards not only take great care of the ball but they are some of the best in the land at swiping it and getting the other guys to turn it over. The Colonels are top-15 in limiting opponents’ effective possessions, a miniscule ratio of 0.878.
The Colonels (17-5) sink their 2-point attempts nearly half the time, and their 34.7% touch beyond the 3-point line is in the top third of the country. Martin’s defending of both is pitiful, so its fans might be able to take some solace in not being able to witness this debacle.
Tennessee-Martin figures to be disenchanted with this one by the start of the second half.
Eastern Owns Martin
Guard-heavy Martin has two decent players, Cameron Holden (14.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg) and Jaron Williams (10.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg), but the latter owns a dreadful turnover-to-assist ratio of nearly 2-to-1.
Should junior guard Kenton Eskridge and 6-foot-7, 175-pound freshman Anthony Thomas ever get on the same Skyhawks page with Holden and Williams, look out. Three of them sort of clicked previously, at Eastern, but look what transpired.
In that 40-point pasting, Hamilton’s hellacious Forty Minutes produced a 25-point effort from 5-11 freshman guard Wendell Green, 23 from sophomore forward Michael Moreno, and 19 apiece from rookies Curt Lewis and Devontae Blanton.
The Colonels connected on a devastating 20 of 37 3-point attempts. They won the two previous meetings, before this season, 99-86 and 97-73.
On The Road
That was a month ago. This is the fifth of seven consecutive road games for Eastern, a swing in which it’s gone 3-1 so far, hitting 41.5% (39 of 94) of its long-range launches.
Moreover, it says plenty about Hamilton’s roster that it can sustain the loss of Brandon Knapper, a West Virginia transfer who scored 73 points in a four-game stretch around the holidays but is serving an indefinite suspension for an alleged off-campus incident, and continue without missing a beat.
The Colonels are one of the unsung highlights of college basketball. Do not be surprised if they make some bold late-March headlines.