Drake Bulldogs vs. Wichita State Shockers Odds & Pick
The long-long-awaited next NCAA basketball tournament tips-off Thursday night with the four "play-in" games, the second of which matches long-time former conference rivals Drake and Wichita State in West Lafayette, Ind. The Bulldogs finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference this season but will play this game short-handed. Meanwhile, the Shockers won the American Athletic Conference this year. WSU is lined as a short favorite for this one, and early betting action pushed the line even shorter. Who do we like here for our free college basketball pick?
NCAA Tournament Basketball Betting Odds
The NCAA tournament college basketball betting market opened Wichita State at -2 over Drake, with an over/under of 141. Early betting action then dipped that line to -1.5.
According to Sagarin's ratings at USAToday.com, the Shockers should be favored by one point for this game.
Drake vs. Wichita State NCAA Tournament Betting Preview
Drake started 18-0 this season, with a win over Kansas State out of the Big 12, reaching No. 25 in the polls back in early February. The Bulldogs went on to finish 15-3 in MVC play, one game behind first-place Loyola (Chic.). Drake then defeated Missouri State in the semifinals of the MVC tournament 71-69 but, playing short-handed thanks to a couple of key injuries, lost the conference tournament championship game to those Ramblers 75-65 back on March 7.
Nonetheless, the Bulldogs are playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008.
Unfortunately, Drake might play this game, too, without two of its top performers. G Roman Penn, who ranked third on the team in scoring this season at 11 PPG and led the Valley in assists at 5.5 PG, is out with a broken foot, while F ShanQuan Hemphill, who led the team in scoring at 14 PPG and ranked second in rebounds with six PG, is questionable with a bad foot of his own.
Wichita State, meanwhile, started 1-2 this season, the losses coming against two pretty good teams in Missouri and Oklahoma State. The Shockers then played 14-3 from there, winning their last seven games, knocking off Ole Miss, Cincinnati and Houston along the way to finish atop the AAC at 11-2 in conference action. WSU then edged South Florida 68-67 in the quarterfinals of the AAC tournament but lost to the Bearcats in the semifinals 60-59 back on March 13.
So the Shockers are back in the Big Dance for the first time since 2018.
Sagarin ranks the AAC as the seventh-toughest conference in college basketball this season, with the MVC coming in at No. 11.
By the Numbers
Drake, playing against what Sagarin ranks as the 156th-toughest schedule in college basketball this season, is shooting a shade under 50 percent from the floor, 37 percent from 3-point range, and 71 percent from the line. The Bulldogs are also holding opponents to just under 42 percent FG shooting and out-rebounding foes by a PG margin of 34-28.
WSU, playing against Sagarin's 77th-toughest schedule, is shooting only 41 percent from the field, 34 percent from long range, and 69 percent from the line. The Shockers are also holding foes to 40 percent shooting while playing opponents even on the boards at 34-34 PG.
NCAA Tournament Basketball Betting Trends
- Drake is 69-28 SU, 58-31 ATS in three-plus seasons under Coach DeVries.
- Wichita State is 16-5 SU, 9-9 ATS in this its first season under Coach Brown.
- Wichita State is 3-1 ATS this season when favored by four points or less.
Overs played 17-10 in Drake games this season, which averaged 142 total points.
The UNDER went 10-9 in Wichita State games this season, which averaged 141 points.
Drake Bulldogs vs. Wichita State Shockers Predictions
Drake might be an interesting team in this tournament and a possible Sweet 16 candidate if it were at full-strength. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs will probably play this game without two of their top players. Wichita State, meanwhile, is 8-1 over its last nine games, and while the Shockers struggle at times to throw the ball in the hole, they've also held every opponent this season under 50 percent FG shooting. We like Wichita State here, giving the short spread.