Murray State guard Ja Morant (12) works around Auburn guard Bryce Brown (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Murray State guard Ja Morant (12) works around Auburn guard Bryce Brown (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)|(AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
NCAAB

NCAAB: Thursday we catch Waves, hope Panthers can’t catch Racers

Murray State-12.5 @ EASTERN ILLINOIS 8 pm, BYU -2.5 @ PEPPERDINE 11pm

Patrick Milligan

Murray State -12.5 @ EASTERN ILLINOIS 8 pm
Pick: Murray State-12.5

The Murray State Racers (13-2) visit the Panthers of Eastern Illinois (10-7) on Thursday in an OVC conference matchup. The Racers enter this contest carrying plenty of momentum, already garnering buzz as a potential sleeper team when March comes around. This name may sound familiar to you when talking about Cinderella teams in March Madness. This year though, by the time the tournament tips, don’t expect them to be flying under the radar. Unlike previous Murray State teams, they have an x-factor. They possess a projected NBA lottery pick in Ja Morant. You may have seen his ridiculous dunk that went viral last week, as he legitimately jumped over a player on Southeast Missouri.

Murray State enters this game 6-0 ATS on the road and 3-0 ATS as a road favorite this season, with most of these wins coming against double digit spreads. Credit this to their explosive offense. The Racers rank 32nd among all Division 1 teams in offensive efficiency. Eastern Illinois comes into this matchup following a road win against Tennessee Tech. The Panthers are a mediocre 2-3 ATS at home, including 0-1 ATS as a home favorite. They rank 3rd in KenPom’s Luck metric, suggesting they could be due for regression. Behind Morant, the Racers should cover this 12.5 point spread.

BYU -3.5 @ PEPPERDINE 11pm
Pick: Pepperdine +3.5

The final game to tip off on Thursday night is an interesting West Coast Conference (WCC) matchup between the BYU Cougars and Pepperdine Waves. Each team comes into this game off an in-conference win. BYU defeated Santa Clara, while Pepperdine took down San Diego. BYU currently holds an overall record of 11-8, largely in part to their above average offense. Pepperdine has had an up and down season thus far, sitting squarely at .500 with a 9-9 record.

The Waves, however, have proven to be much tougher on their home court. They gave the second-best team in the WCC, San Francisco, all they could handle a few weeks ago at home. Meanwhile, BYU has struggled mightily on the road this season, going a putrid 1-6 away from home. Furthermore, the Cougars are 1-10 ATS in their last 11 road games. If you look deeper into BYU’s history vs Pepperdine, it gets even uglier. In their last 7 games played at Pepperdine, the cougars are 0-7 ATS! It has been an inconsistent season for The Waves as mentioned earlier, but at home I like them to seize the opportunity in a big conference matchup and win the game outright.

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