We’ve got another quiet card for the most part on Monday. We’ve got a big one in the Big East, a big one for name recognition in the ACC, and a Big 12 tilt with a huge line. The best game of the night could very well be in the MEAC with North Carolina Central up against North Carolina A&T, a game mentioned in this week’s situational betting article.
Let’s give a little love to the SWAC today, though, and the matchup between the Jackson State Tigers and the Prairie View A&M Panthers. It sure seems like PVAMU’s non-conference gauntlet has led to some good things this season. The conference-leading Panthers are favored by eight points with a total of 133 as listed by our pals over at Bookmaker Sportsbook on the overnight lines.
Don’t you worry your pretty little heads about following along with your bet because this one actually appears on ESPNU this evening. It is nice to see both the SWAC and the MEAC getting some love on The U with the light card. So those that only bet TV games, well, this one is a TV game for y’all.
You probably haven’t noticed because it is the SWAC, but these are two excellent defensive teams, particularly within conference play. Jackson State ranks second in eFG% defense since the calendar flipped to 2020. In that span, however, the Tigers are only 7-5. Why is that? Because they are terrible offensively. For all the good things being done on the defensive side, Jackson State is 306th in eFG% since the start of January and 323rd in adjusted offensive efficiency.
Those numbers basically encompass the conference play season, so Jackson State actually ranks second in the conference in adjusted defensive efficiency in league play and first in eFG% defense. I’m sure you can guess that #1 in ADJDE is this Prairie View A&M team and the Panthers are first in TO% on defense. Really that has been the reason why PVAMU has been so good. They have a slightly better than average offense by conference standards, but the extra possessions have certainly come in handy.
PVAMU is second in 3P% defense, but eighth in 2P% defense. Ironically, the Panthers are eighth in 3P% offense and first in 2P% offense as far as conference ranks go. This is a team that played the 28th-ranked non-conference strength of schedule per our favorite resource Bart Torvik. The Panthers have certainly capitalized on the weakness of the SWAC en route to a 9-2 conference mark and first place in the league.
Jackson State also cannot make threes, but the Tigers are ninth in the 10-team conference in 3P Rate, so at least they know that their bread is not buttered from beyond the arc. Wayne Brent’s Tigers are fourth in conference play in 2P%, but what really stands out is that they rank second in TO%. They do take better care of the basketball than just about everybody else in the conference. After struggling through a 2-10 non-conference schedule that currently ranks 43rd per Torvik, things have definitely gotten better in conference play.
Prairie View A&M got the upper hand in the game at Jackson State earlier this season in a 74-60 win. The Tigers only managed .794 points per possession in that matchup, which stands as the second-worst offensive output in a league game thus far. The only worse performance came in a 49-45 win over Arkansas Pine Bluff.
PVAMU’s two conference losses came on the road by four at Texas Southern and by three at Alabama State in a game in which the Panthers were 1-of-20 from three. Before hitting eight treys against Grambling State in the last game, the Panthers were 4-of-43 from three in their previous three games. They still managed to win two of them.
As a general rule, the quality of play in the SWAC doesn’t seem to be all that great. The SWAC ranks 31st out of the 32 conferences per Torvik and ranks 30th in 2P% and 31st in 3P% as far as conference-only play. There is also a lot of fouling in this league, which makes betting unders a real scary proposition.
The first game between these two was something of a track meet, as it was played to 76 possessions. That is the second-fastest game for Jackson State in conference action and the same for PVAMU, who does push the pace a little bit more among the two teams.
The fact that this game is on ESPNU makes for an interesting handicap. Prairie View A&M looks most likely to grab the conference’s lone bid and play as a 16 seed against one of the #1 teams, so this is a nice opportunity for them to perform well and maybe avoid the play-in game. On the other hand, it’s not like Jackson State ever gets any run and those players will relish the brighter lights.
In what should be something of a defensive struggle, we’ll take Jackson State plus the points tonight. Point guard Tristan Jarrett had a season-high eight turnovers out of JSU’s 24 in the first meeting. PVAMU was +10 in turnovers in that one. The low shooting numbers for the Panthers should keep this one close unless they wind up with a big TO edge again.
Pick: Jackson State +8.5