Bradley (12-17) at Drake (14-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 1, 3:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Knapp Center (7,152) -- Des Moines, Iowa. Television: None. Home Record: Bradley 11-6, Drake 8-5. Away Record: Bradley 1-9, Drake 4-9. Neutral Record: Bradley 0-2, Drake 2-1. Conference Record: Bradley 7-9, Drake 5-12. Series Record: Bradley leads, 80-59.
GAME NOTES: Two teams playing for conference tournament seeding conclude their regular season on Saturday, as the Drake Bulldogs host the Bradley Braves in Missouri Valley Conference action at the Knapp Center.
Bradley comes into this contest as losers of four of its last five games, including a 69-49 setback on Tuesday night at home versus undefeated Wichita State. The Braves are in seventh place in the MVC, one game back of SIU for sixth place and still has a chance for a first-round bye in the upcoming conference tourney.
Drake fell at Evansville, also on Tuesday night, 61-48. That was the second straight loss for the Bulldogs and their sixth in their last eight outings overall, leaving them in eighth place in the conference.
Saturday's game will be the 140th in the all-time series, which Bradley leads by an 80-59 margin. Despite Bradley's series advantage, Drake has won six of the last seven meetings, including a 68-57 decision in Peoria in January.
Walt Lemon, Jr. led the Braves with 18 points while Tyshon Pickett finished with 13 points and 15 boards in the setback to Wichita State. Bradley was within striking distance at 26-22 late in the first half before the Shockers began pulling away. An 8-0 run that stretched the lead to 12, and five 3- pointers in the first seven-plus minutes of the second half had the Shockers ahead by a healthy 50-32 margin. The closest Bradley got over the final 13 minutes was 13 points.
Lemon has been the go-to scorer for Bradley this season and leads the team with 17.7 ppg on 41.5 percent shooting, and adds a team-high 115 assists and 69 steals, but has had trouble keeping possession of the ball, with 108 giveaways. Pickett is behind Lemon in scoring at 11.8 ppg, and he sports a team-best 7.6 rpg. Omari Grier rounds out the unit's double-digit scorers with 10.2 ppg.
In the loss to Evansville, the Bulldogs failed to have a single player score in double figures, with Karl Madison and Daddy Ugbede posting seven points apiece. Drake led by as many as seven in the first half, thanks to 48 percent shooting from the floor, which included a 4-of-11 effort behind the 3-point line, but at the break the advantage was just four points, 30-26. In the second half, the offense for the Bulldogs completely fell apart, the team logging a total of just six field goals. Drake came up empty on six tries beyond the arc in the frame, but at the same time allowed the home team to knock down 50 percent from the floor and 4-of-6 out on the perimeter, en route to the 13-point decision.
Richard Carter leads the Bulldogs in scoring with a 16.2 ppg average. His 103 assists and 54 steals on the year are also team-highs for Drake, which averages 68.4 ppg as a unit. Jordan Daniels nets 10.5 ppg, and Aaron Hawley chips in with 9.9 ppg. Jacob Enevold heads the squad's rebounding effort with 5.1 rpg.
Both of these teams are struggling and could use some momentum heading into the postseason. Bradley has a little more depth and is still playing for a first-round bye, so expect the Braves to have the edge and go home with the victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bradley 72, Drake 67
03/01 11:07:32 ET