The men’s basketball teams are vying for the tournament trophy and the winner of the single-elimination event receives an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Bradley has already qualified as the regular season MVC champion and is a +190 betting favorite at DraftKings IL. Can they continue their winning ways or could +145 favorite Drake break through and qualify for NCAA postseason play?
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Bradley Braves (23-8, 16-4) +190 at DraftKings
Bradley won the regular season championship but isn’t favored to win the MVC event. Still, they’ve already qualified for the NCAA Tournament and enter the tournament riding a 10-game winning streak. The Braves are 19-11 ATS but are 0-2 on a neutral court.
𝗔 𝗖𝗲𝗹𝗲𝗯𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝟮𝟳 𝗬𝗲𝗮𝗿𝘀 𝗜𝗻 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗠𝗮𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴… 🏆 pic.twitter.com/CDSbGQC3t1
— Bradley Basketball (@BradleyUMBB) February 27, 2023
Rienk Mast leads the team in scoring and rebounds but left Sunday’s game with a leg injury and is questionable for Friday. Duke Deen leads the Braves in assists for a team whose strengths are its shooting from inside and outside the arc but doesn’t get to the charity stripe, and when they don’t seem to make many.
Drake Bulldogs (24-7, 15-5) +135 at DraftKings
Drake was the MVC runner-up, and they’ll likely need to win the MVC tourney to qualify for the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs are 10-1 over their previous 11 games and are 4-0 on neutral courts but 13-16-1 ATS.
𝘙𝘰 𝘉𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘏𝘢𝘭𝘧𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦 𝘉𝘶𝘻𝘻𝘦𝘳#DrakeALLIN#DSMHometownTeam pic.twitter.com/Te7wC7CFfp
— Drake Basketball (@DrakeBulldogsMB) February 26, 2023
Tucker DeVries leads the team in scoring, Darnell Brody is the Bulldogs’ top rebounder, and Roman Penn is the squad’s leader in assists. Drake boasts solid shooters from everywhere on the court but doesn’t get to the charity stripe and is at the bottom of the MVC in steals.
Southern Illinois Salukis (22-9, 14-6) +1400 at DraftKings
Southern Illinois has won two straight, and they’ll need to win the MVC to advance to NCAA postseason play. The Salukis have won three of their last five, and are 1-1 on neutral courts but 12-17-1 ATS this season.
What a way to finish! Saluki Nation SHOWED OUT in Chi-town 🙌
Next stop ➡️ STL #ArchMadness #Salukis | #KeepYourChip pic.twitter.com/Pr3kEYlAil
— Saluki Basketball (@SIU_Basketball) February 26, 2023
Forward Markus Domask is one of the best in the conference and leads the Salukis in scoring, rebounding, and assists–Lance Jones is second in scoring for a Southern Illinois side ranked 1st in steals and 2nd in two-point FG%. The Salukis also has a below-average turnover rate and are 9th in the conference in opponent offensive rebounding percentage.
Belmont Bruins (21-10, 14-6) +800 at DraftKings
The Bruins are riding a two-game winning streak when they play the winner of Thursday’s Evansville-Indiana State this Friday. Belmont has to win the MVC to advance to postseason NCAA play–the Bruins have won four of its past five, are 2-1 on neutral courts, and 16-13-1 ATS on the season.
🎧 @CaseyAlexander_ postgame thoughts after victory at Northern Iowa#ItsBruinTime pic.twitter.com/pkOi5806zf
— Belmont Basketball (@BelmontMBB) February 26, 2023
Ben Sheppard leads the Bruins in scoring–Even Brauns grabs the most caroms, and Keishawn Davidson leads Belmont in dimes. The Bruins shoot an MVC 2nd-best 37% from downtown with the 3rd-lowest turnover rates in the league, but they don’t defend much and are the 11th worst at keeping opponents off the offensive glass.
Indiana State Sycamores (20-11, 13-7) +550 at DraftKings
Indiana State has lost two straight and drew #12 Evansville as their 1st-round opponent. It will take an MVC tourney championship to qualify for NCAA postseason play. The Sycamores are 7-2 over their last nine, 2-1 on a neutral court, and 19-11 ATS.
COOP FROM THE LOGO🎯#MarchOn | #Kaizen pic.twitter.com/o39xdhiJvq
— Indiana State Basketball (@IndStBasketball) February 26, 2023
Courvoisier McCauley leads Indiana State in scoring and caroms, and Cameron Henry is the Sycamores assist leader. Indiana State leads the conference in effective field goal percentage and 2nd in FT% but is prone to foul trouble and is 11th in offensive rebounding percentage.
Missouri State Bears (16-14, 12-8) +3000 at DraftKings
The Bears enter their Thursday matchup with UIC riding a two-game winning streak and needing to take down the MVC championship to participate in March Madness. Missouri State are 4-2 over their previous six, 1-2 on a neutral court, and 13-14-2 ATS this season for the No. 6 seed Bears.
Big bucket by Clay! pic.twitter.com/DpQufgkbF8
— Missouri State Basketball (@MSUBearsHoops) February 26, 2023
Donovan Clay leads the team in points and assists, while Jonathan Mogbo is tops in caroms. The Bears lead the conference in block rate and 1st in offensive rebound percentage but are 11th in free-throw percentage and 7th in defensive rebound percentage.
Murray State Racers (16-14, 11-9) +20000 at DraftKings
Murray State needs to win the MVC tournament to advance to NCAA postseason play and have a nice Wednesday encounter with Valparaiso. Murray State has won three of its last four and is 2-1 on a neutral court and 12-16-1 ATS this season.
Making Plays – Brian Moore, Jr.#GoRacers🏇🏀 pic.twitter.com/FMokbfapio
— Murray State MBB (@RacersHoops) February 20, 2023
Rob Perry leads the Racers in scoring, DJ Burns is the top rebounder, and JaCobi Wood is the team’s top playmaker. Murray State allows the least amount of free throws per game and is 2nd in the MVC in turnover percentage but last in forcing turnovers and 11th in defensive efficiency.
Northern Iowa Panthers (13-17, 9-11) +7000 at DraftKings
Northern Iowa must win the MVC to advance to NCAA postseason events but has lost two straight and has a tough opening-round matchup with Illinois State. The Panthers have lost eight of their past nine and are 13-16 ATS with a 1-2 mark on a neutral court.
That @mduax15 reverse layup is SMOOTH!#EverLoyal pic.twitter.com/Gmle4MQorM
— UNI Basketball (@UNImbb) February 26, 2023
Bowen Born leads the Panthers in scoring and assists, while Tytan Anderson snares the most boards per night. Northern Iowa allows the fewest offensive rebounds in the conference and is 4th in three-point percentage, but the defense is bad, and they have a below-average turnover percentage.
Illinois State Redbirds (11-20, 6-14) +80000 at DraftKings
Illinois State had a tough opener against NIU and snapped a six-game losing streak in their season finale against Evansville. The Redbirds are 11-19 ATS and 0-4 on a neutral court but need to win the tournament for an NCAA postseason invitation.
Hear from Redbird head coach Ryan Pedon from after tonight's win over Evansville! pic.twitter.com/audGDOVruL
— Illinois State Men's Basketball (@Redbird_MBB) February 27, 2023
Darius Burford leads the Redbirds in points and dimes while Kendall Lewis snags a team-high 7.3 boards. Illinois State is the best free throw shooting team in the MVC and 4th in blocked shot percentage but has the worst turnover percentage and committed the most fouls in the conference.
Valparaiso Beacons (11-20, 5-15) +50000 at DraftKings
Valpo doesn’t advance to postseason NCAA play unless they win the MVC tournament and have a winnable opening matchup with Murray State. The Beacons have lost four straight and are 12-17-1 ATS but 1-1 this season on a neutral court.
Sprinting to the rim!! 🏀@swaggynick04#GoValpo | #WeAreBeacons pic.twitter.com/LhXKkp4Ff4
— Valpo Basketball (@ValpoBasketball) February 26, 2023
Ben Krikke leads the Beacons in scoring and rebounding, while Nick Edwards leads with 5.1 assists. Valpo does a nice job taking care of the ball, and while they play MVC average defense, the Beacons are last from beyond the arc and 11th in creating turnovers.
UIC Flames (12-19, 4-16) +80000 at DraftKings
UIC will need to win the MVC to play postseason NCAA events and has a tough opener with Missouri State. The Flames enter the event having won two of their last three and have a 17-11-2 ATS mark and 2-0 on a neutral court.
Jalen Jackson the hoop and the harm!!#BringTheHeat | #FireUpFlames pic.twitter.com/XbOrzAcq4v
— UIC Men's Basketball 🔥🏀 (@UIC_MBB) February 26, 2023
Jace Carter leads UIC in scoring, Toby Okani is the team’s top rebounder, and Trevante Anderson is the team’s best playmaker. The Flames do a nice job getting to the charity stripe with the 3rd highest block percentage but are terrible shooters and poor defenders.
Evansville Purple Aces (5-26, 1-19) +100000
Evansville is hoping to shake a five-game losing streak, and its only hope for postseason NCAA play is for the Purple Aces to win this event. They have a tough Thursday night tilt with Indiana State and are 9-20-2 ATS but 1-2 on a neutral court.
Moncrief finds Phillips for the field goal
🏀 #ForTheAces pic.twitter.com/XeglVAQIca
— UE Men's Basketball (@UEAthletics_MBB) February 26, 2023
Kenny Strawbridge Jr leads Evansville in scoring, Yacine Toumi is tops in caroms, and Marvin Coleman II leads the Purple Aces in assists and steals. Evansville is the fastest-paced team in the MVC with the 10th-best turnover percentage but is 2nd in steals.
Phil’s Best Bet for Arch Madness 2023
Illinois sports bettors and MVC fans should be in for a treat this weekend, as Arch Madness should be a competitive event.
The betting markets favor Drake, but they have a possible semifinal matchup with an Indiana State side they barely beat at home with a 0-point differential over their two conference matchups.
Indiana State could be a nice +550 play, and it’s entirely possible the Sycamores could run the table and win Arch Madness, but I’m not sure they rebound well enough or can stay out of foul trouble.
Bradley has a super draw, and +190 is a good price for the conference regular season champ to win the MVC Tournament. The Braves nearly led from wire to wire in their season finale against the Bulldogs and finished the game comfortably without Mast. If the Braves’ leading scorer suits up, Bradley wins this event and sweeps the MVC this season, and they should still win this event without their leading scorer in the lineup.