With only five Summit League games left for both Kansas City and Western Illinois, the importance of each game continues to grow. We’ll preview their game tonight before going over my play for the action.
After winning six of their last seven games, Western Illinois now finds themselves in third place in the Summit League. The Leathernecks could put themselves in a good position for the conference tournament if they can continue the pace they’re on. If their recent offense is any indicator, it looks that is a good possibility.
The Leathernecks have managed to score 75 or more points in three of their last four games, and a big reason for that is the recent play of leading scorer Trenton Massner. Over his last ten games, Massner is averaging 23.2 points, and in four of those games, he scored 28 or more points, including a 46-point scoring clinic against North Dakota.
When these two teams met earlier in the season, Massner was the highest scorer in the game with 19 points, with the Leathernecks winning 60-52. Western Illinois is not known for their defense, so only scoring 52 points is an excellent example of why UMKC ranks 305th in the country in offensive efficiency rating, according to KenPom.
UMKC sits in fifth place in the Summit League, and after winning three straight, the Roos are now in the midst of a two-game losing streak, in which they’ve only managed to score 66 and 57 points. Shooting has been a real problem for this team all season, as they rank 359th in the country in effective field goal percentage and 356th in shooting percentage.
In their most recent game, the Roos only managed to shoot 32% from the field, and leading scorer RayQuawndis Mitchell was held to just 11 points. The Roos have the defensive ability to win them games, ranking 64th in opponent shooting percentage. Still, the last time these two teams met, their offense put to waste an excellent defensive performance.
This game opened with Western Illinois favored by -3.5, and that number is now down to -1.5. However, for my best play in this one, I’ll be taking the Leathernecks on the moneyline at (-125). UMKC has been a solid ATS team when they are on the road and underdogs this season, but when it comes to straight-up record, the Roos are 2-8 on the road and 5-8 as an underdog this season.
Meanwhile, Western Illinois has a straight-up home record of 10-2, and when they are favored, their straight-up record is 8-3. Both teams run at a slow tempo, so shooting at a high percentage is going to be important tonight, and I don’t think the Roos can outshoot the Leathernecks. The last three teams to beat Western Illinois outshot them from three-point range, and UMKC does not have the shooting ability to do so.
The last time these two teams met, the Roos shot 12% from three-point range, and in the six games they have played since then, they have only shot above 27% from deep in one of them. Western Illinois has another chance tonight to beat a team strictly with their offense, and it may be a sloppy game like the last time, but I like them to win outright.
Western Illinois (-125)