The Conference USA Championship Tournament starts Tuesday, March 9, 2021, so here’s the best betting pick for the first-round clash between the Southern Miss Golden Eagles and Rice Owls at Ford Center in Frisco.
These two schools played a two-game set back in February, and the Owls swept the Golden Eagles on the home court, winning 88-62 as 3.5-point favorites and 76-68 as 5-point favorites. According to William Hill Sportsbook, Rice opened as a slight 3-point fave for Tuesday’s game, and the Owls will search for their fourth straight win over Southern Mississippi.
The Golden Eagles finished bottom of the C-USA West Division
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles (8-16; 4-13 Conf.) closed down the regular season with a couple of home losses to Florida Atlantic, 73-66 and 69-60, failing to cover on both occasions as slight 1.5-point underdogs.
The Eagles ended up as the worst team in the C-USA West Division, two and a half games behind the sixth-seeded Rice Owls. They are No. 271 in the NCAA NET Rankings and No. 253 in the KenPom rankings.
Junior forward Tyler Stevenson leads the way for the Golden Eagles, recording 14.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Tae Hardy averages 11.0 points and 2.5 assists, while freshman guard Jaron Pierre adds 9.0 points and 3.6 rebounds a night.
Southern Miss is scoring only 94.5 points per 100 possessions (303rd in the nation). The Eagles make just 43.4% of their field goals (216th), 32.4% of their triples (240th), and 67.4% of their free throws (277th). They surrender 101.7 points per 100 possessions (174th) on 42.1% shooting from the field (113th).
The Owls just snapped a four-game skid
The Rice Owls (13-12; 6-10 Conf.) have dropped four straight games in the conference play, losing twice at Louisiana Tech and Western Kentucky. Still, they managed to wrap up the regular season on the right foot, outlasting Our Lady of the Lake 80-77 at home this past Friday.
The Owls are No. 196 in the NCAA NET Rankings and No. 195 in the KenPom rankings. They score 105.0 points per 100 possessions (133rd in the country) while shooting 43.8% from the field (195th) and 35.4% from beyond the 3-point line (98th). The Owls make the eighth-most 3-pointers per game (10.4).
Sophomore guard Quincy Olivari leads the way for Rice, tallying 16.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, while sophomore forward Max Fiedler adds 10.6 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3.7 assists a night. The Owls have struggled defensively all season, allowing 107.3 points per 100 possessions (286th) on 45.1% shooting from the field (250th).
- 1-6 ATS in the last seven games overall
- 1-4 ATS in the last five contests played in March
- 4-1 ATS in the last five games against Southern Miss
- 11-4 ATS in the last 15 outings as favorites
While both Southern Miss and Rice have some serious defensive issues, especially the Owls, Rice is certainly a better offensive team in this matchup. The Owls have already defeated the Golden Eagles twice this term, so I’m backing them to extend the streak and cover a 3-point spread.
I’m looking for Max Fielder to dominate this game. Also, the Golden Eagles have been playing in a horrible form lately, going 1-10 SU and 2-9 ATS over their last 11 games overall, so they will struggle to get an advantage even of the Owls’ leaky defense.
Pick: Take Rice Owls -3.0 at -110
The Owls love to play at a fast pace and average 70.2 possessions per 40 minutes (96th in the country). I’ve already mentioned their poor defense, so it’s no strange that five of the Owls’ last six games went in the over.
On the other side, the Golden Eagles record 67.9 possessions per 40 minutes (219th). Four of their last seven tilts went in the over, as well as five of the previous seven encounters between Southern Mississippi and Rice.
Pick: Go over 142.5 points at -110