Eastern Washington has yet to lose a Big Sky Conference game this season, and they will put that 8-0 start on the line tonight at home against the Idaho State Bengals. We’ll preview the game before breaking down why I’ll be targeting the point total in this one.
Not many teams in the country can say they have a 7-13 overall record but sit in fourth place in their conference, but Idaho State is one of those teams. The Bengals have gone 4-3 in Big Sky play so far this season but will enter tonight off a 72-65 loss to Portland State.
The bright side for the Bengals in that loss is their leading scorer Miguel Tomley had 17 points on 50% shooting from the field, which is his best performance since conference play began. Idaho State could benefit from Tomley getting hot, as they rank 269th in the country in offensive efficiency, according to KenPom.
Interestingly enough, even though their opponent tonight has yet to lose a conference game, they still have a chance to find a lot of success on the offensive end. Eastern Washington is allowing an average of 71.5 points per game this season, and they have allowed 74 or more points in six of their eight Big Sky games.
The Eagles run at the 89th-highest tempo in the country, so they allow a large number of field goals and three-point attempts per game, leading to opponents making an average of 8.8 three’s a game. In their most recent game, the Eagles and their opponent attempted a combined 64 three-pointers, leading to a final score of 79-76.
Eastern Washington’s roster has shooters from top to bottom, as they have shot 46.7% from the field this season, and four of their five starters are averaging in double figures over the last ten games. Steele Venters leads the way for the Eagles, averaging 15.3 PPG and shooting an impressive 47% from the field this season.
The point total for this game is currently set at 142, and I’ll be taking the over for my play in this one. Eastern Washington has only scored under 70 points twice during their eighth conference games, and the over is 17-4 the last 21 times the Eagles played a team with a losing record.
Idaho State has allowed opponents to shoot 44.6% from the field this season, and their 255th-ranked defensive efficiency rating will not get the job done tonight against the Eagles' offense. Eastern Washington can score from anywhere on the floor and even have the 17th-best two-point shooting percentage in the country, so they are likely in for another big offensive performance.
The Bengals themselves tend to play up to their competition's level when they play on the road, as the over is 5-1 in the last six games they have played on the road against a team with a winning home record. Teams have found success against the Eagles' defense all season, and after shooting 52% in their last game, I think they can carry that momentum into tonight.