Bullish on Bulldogs

Drake has raced out of the gate, winning its first 13 games. Eleven were lined, all of which the Bulldogs covered by an average margin of nearly 14 points. 

Let that sink in. That’s called a no-sweat cushion. 

Professional bettor Conner Streeter was on a few of them, and he’s been most impressed that Drake has not only shot very well, inside and outside the 3-point arc, but also has prospered under its own glass. 

“Usually the teams that are good at that are bad-shooting teams,” he said, mentioning West Virginia and Houston. “They supplement their offensive-shooting woes with second chances. Drake is doing that but also shoots well, which is why it’s been so good ATS and its margins are so wide. 

“The Bulldogs are also defending well, so it’s been a perfect storm.” 

Drake is a Rat darling, from the headbands worn by Darnell Brodie and ShanQuan Hemphill, a lefty with flair, to Roman Penn’s savvy bounce passes to Garrett Sturtz’s Woody Harrelson-like game. 

Drake possesses a hound-dog press, too, to which Streeter alluded, that saps foes. The experienced Bulldogs used that to forge a 41-21 halftime lead over a young Southern Illinois squad Monday. 

Streeter, his professional alias, operates offshore like a maestro, with many global outs. In an insightful preseason information guide that he released publicly, at no charge, for the first time — at biffssportsalmanac.com — he noted Drake returning six key players. 

And losing 7-foot center Liam Robbins to Minnesota. 

“Had Drake not been grifted by Minnesota stealing an NBA prospect, imagine how much better they’d be,” Streeter wrote in a Saturday email. “But I thought they’d be okay, since they returned 6-foot-8 guys and most of their production.” 

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On Sunday, Dec. 27, three-point-favorite Drake won, 81-63, at Indiana State. In this funky new hoops world of back-to-backs, they played the next night, too. A keen litmus test, said Streeter. 

Drake, favored by five points, trailed 59-58 with about 2½ minutes remaining Monday. The Bulldogs brought the clampdown, sinking seven of eight free throws over the ensuing 90 seconds. 

Despite allowing the Sycamores three layups inside the final minute, Drake grabbed control, won and covered, 73-66. 

“Impressive,” said Streeter. “We are in unchartered waters here with these back-to-backs.” Winning on the road “and putting their feet on throats of opponents, those are both really good traits that show they are, in fact, good. 

“But the quality of opponents they had beaten was not so good.” 

Going into last weekend, minus those two non-lined games, Drake’s opposition was a combined 21-53, according to Streeter. 

That changed Sunday, when the 7-1 Salukis — off to their best start in 80 seasons — lost to 10-point-favorite Drake, 73-55, inside the Bulldogs’ Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa. 

Monday, an opening line of 10.5 points got shaved to 9.5 at one Vegas shop, so punters were betting against Drake. But the Bulldogs made Southern Illinois look like Northern Illinois in an 86-55 rout. 

“People win on them a few times and brag on social media how great Drake is, then its lines become inflated and over-bet,” Streeter said. “We are near that point, even though I’d say Drake is, in fact, a good team. But I’d hold off on having them run through the (NCAA) tourney.” 

Friday 

Ohio at Toledo -5: The Rockets improved to 9-2 against the number over the weekend. Senior guard Marreon Jackson poured in 29 points at Ohio last season. Toledo shoots free throws and 3-pointers like champs, and the Bobcats will have difficulty against the Rockets’ sticky perimeter defense. Ohio is a brutal 65.2% at the line. TOLEDO 

Saturday 

Winthrop -9 at High Point: After Monday, the Eagles were 7-1 against the spread and to the Over. Former D-II player Chandler Vaudrin is their matchup nightmare, a 6-foot-7 point forward averaging 12 points, 8.9 assists and 7.7 rebounds. WINTHROP 

Northern Illinois at Miami-Ohio -8: The 1-7 Huskies, 0-8 against the spread, sacked 10th-year coach Mark Montgomery on Sunday. Lamar Chapman takes over as interim boss. Good luck. They are horrible beyond the arc, brutal inside it and atrocious at the line. MIAMI-OHIO 

Sunday 

Loyola-Chicago at Drake, Total 135: Six of the Ramblers’ first seven lined games of the season sailed over. The Bulldogs own a top-10 effective field-goal percentage, and they’re fourth in the nation shooting 3-pointers, at 42.2% Their offensive efficiency of 1.175 is fifth in the country, Loyola is tied for 16th at 1.121. OVER

Last week: 1-2 

Season: 11-6