Dime – Evansville +10
I know, I know – the Shockers just don’t lose at home and normally win by A LOT. The last team to beat them here – Evansville. I have no idea what the line will do. I’ll take double digits now. This is the best team the Purple Aces have fielded in over a decade, maybe ever – and these two teams should battle it out for the MVS regular season title, so this is an very important early game. Of course the Shockers know that too, but this is perhaps the most vulnerable they’ve been since Gregg Marshall took over. They played a little tougher non-conference schedule than they typically do – but a Witchita State team with five losses to this point is just rare. They lost to every good team they played (I don’t count UNLV at home, a six point win) in there, except for Utah, which was a revenge game from an overtime loss at Utah last season. The point is that before we get to stats, E’ville has to be coming in here with confidence. The Shockers still have holdovers Van Fleet and Baker – but they have far less scoring options than in the past – the caveat here is that Freshman Markis McDuffie stays in check – he CAN be a difference maker. E’ville the one of the most experienced teams in the NCAA (8th) and does do most of their scoring inside as well as get to the line a ton, and shooting almost 72% from the stripe. The key for them is Mockevicious staying out of foul trouble – because he can and will cause problems for whoever Marshall decides to use on him. I like E’ville’s grit – they don’t quit – they came back from way down at HT to push Arkansas, they beat a decent Fresno team on the road, and came back from a HT deficit to bear Murray State on the road. The Shockers will play slower and do what they do – shoot three pointers – but defending the perimeter is a strength of E’ville’s defense. The Shockers have had more shots blocked this year than usual (a lot) and E’ville has been good at blocking them – so, I am not saying Evansville is the better team, but they CAN win this game if the Shockers are not on it, and SHOULD stay within ten points.