In the very first game on the NCAA Tournament, the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils and the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers will fight for their right to get into the main bracket and take on the Kentucky Wildcats.
Western Kentucky was truly a great story this year. Teams like this are what the madness of March is all about. The Hilltoppers had to fire their head coach in the middle of the season just to try to right the ship, and all of a sudden down the stretch, they started to catch some fire. They got into the Sun Belt Tournament on a high after upsetting the upstart Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, and all of a sudden, a few wins later, and here they are in Dayton with a chance to move into the main bracket. There isn’t a man that is averaging even a dozen points per game this year, and that is what has truly been missing for this team. That being said, ever since the coaching change, the Hilltoppers have been playing team ball. Eight men are averaging at least 5.5 points per game, and when you can get those types of efforts, you are going to win a lot of games, especially against inferior opponents.
Another year, another play in game that the SWAC is forced to be involved with. It almost seems like a right that the winners of this conference are stuck here in Dayton, and often times, the teams don’t have a shot to move on to be involved in the top games in the first full round of the dance. This was a team that had a remarkable transformation this year. The squad started off at just 1-11 this year, and it stormed back to win 20 of its last 21 games, including three in a row in the SWAC Tournament to make the dance. This isn’t a team that is afraid of playing the big boys. The Delta Devils did take the Iowa State Cyclones to the brink in Ames on New Year’s Eve, and there were games that were played against the likes of Wisconsin, Florida, Ole Miss, Northwestern, Arkansas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Notre Dame… the list could go on and on. In fact, this is a team that isn’t all that afraid to travel either, knowing that its first home game didn’t come on the slate until January 3rd, and that was the only home game until January 14th.
The Final Word: We understand that the Hilltoppers are playing great ball right now, but MSVS is doing so as well. The Sun Belt was a lot more difficult than the SWAC this year, but in the end, we think that the oddsmakers are going to pay for opening up the Delta Devils getting so many points
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils Free Pick: Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils +5.5
Andrew Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.