Next season, Belmont and Murray State will take their basketball rivalry to the Missouri Valley Conference. But they have at least one more matchup left in the Ohio Valley Conference, as the conference’s top two teams face off tonight.
Since Belmont joined the OVC a decade ago, the Bruins and Racers have developed one of the best rivalries in mid-major college basketball, as they have battled it out time and again for conference supremacy.
This season, both teams have excelled, but Murray State has been perfect in conference play, landing in the top 20 of the national rankings as a result. Heading into tonight’s game, Murray State has already locked up the top seed in the OVC tournament, which starts next Wednesday in Evansville, Indiana.
The Racers and Bruins, who are assured of the second seed, have byes through to the semifinals. So, we could see this matchup again with the OVC’s automatic bid on the line in nine days’ time.
Belmont vs. Murray State College Basketball Matchup Information and Betting Odds
- Game Matchup: Belmont Bruins (24-5, 14-2 Ohio Valley Conference, 2nd in the OVC) vs. #19 AP/#21 CP Murray State Racers (26-2, 16-0 in the OVC, 1st in the OVC)
- Venue & Location: CFSB Center (Murray, Kentucky)
- Date: Thursday, February 24, 2022
- Time: 9:00 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPNU
- Spread: Belmont +2.5 (-110), Murray State -2.5 (-110)
- Total: OVER 144.5 (-110), UNDER 144.5 (-110)
- Moneyline: Belmont +135, Murray State -165
Odds are via BetMGM.
Can Belmont Work Its Way into the March Madness At-Large Picture?
While Murray State’s metrics have them well-positioned for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, the same is not the case for Belmont.
March Madness Metrics for Murray State (Entering Thursday, Feb. 24)
- NET: 27
- Road Record: 10-1
- Quad 1 Record: 2-1
- Notable Results: won at Memphis, won at Belmont, won vs. Chattanooga, lost at Auburn
March Madness Metrics for Belmont
- NET: 58
- Road Record: 10-3
- Quad 1 Record: 1-3
- Notable Results: won at Saint Louis, won vs. Iona (neutral site), won vs. Chattanooga, lost at LSU, lost vs. Dayton (neutral site), lost vs. Murray State
Belmont likely needs to win tonight, win their regular season finale against Tennessee State, and win their OVC tournament semifinal matchup (preferably against #3 seed Morehead State), and take Murray State down to the wire in the OVC Tournament championship game to have a chance of an at-large bid if they don’t claim the automatic bid.
To win tonight in Murray, the Bruins need to put in a better performance than they did against the Racers at home in an 82-60 loss on January 15.
In that game, Belmont gave up 48 first-half points, allowed Murray State to shoot 56 percent from three (14 of 25), and make 51 percent of their shots overall. On the offensive end, the Bruins, who are fifth in the nation in field goal percentage (49.5 percent), shot only 40.7 percent (24 of 59) from the field and 21.7 percent (5 of 23) from three.
The Bruins do head into the rematch on the right foot, however. Since an 83-74 loss at Morehead State on January 20, Belmont has won 10 straight games. A number of those games have been on the strength of strong offensive play, as they have hit the 75-point mark in seven of their past 10 games.
Belmont’s Past Ten Games
- at Eastern Illinois: won 90-56
- at Austin Peay: won 75-67
- vs. UT Martin: won 87-58
- at Tennessee State: won 88-61
- at Tennessee Tech: won 100-92 (OT)
- vs. Austin Peay: won 72-58
- vs. Morehead State: won 48-47
- at Southeast Missouri State: won 81-72
- vs. Eastern Illinois: won 81-57
- vs. SIU Edwardsville: won 73-62
That said, they have also had a number of good performances at the other end and can also grind out an ugly win if needed. In their rematch with Morehead State two weeks ago, they shot only 30.5 percent from the field and scored a season-low 48 points. But they were resolute on the defensive end and eked out a one-point win over the Eagles on Grayson Murphy’s bucket in the final seconds.
Belmont vs. Murray State Prediction & Picks
Murray State 76, Belmont 72 (Murray State -2.5 & OVER 144.5)
Both of these teams are among the highest-scoring teams in college basketball. Belmont is tied for 12th at 80.4 points per game, while Murray State is 17th at 79.8 points per game.
They also both shoot the ball well. As mentioned above, Belmont is fifth in the country in field goal percentage, while Murray State is 23rd (47.9 percent). Making a high percentage of their two-point shots is a big reason why, as Belmont is second in the country (to Gonzaga) in that area at 61.4 percent, while Murray State is 48th at 53.7 percent.
But the Racers are one of the best defensive teams in college basketball, ranking 22nd in scoring defense (62.2 points allowed per game). And the Bruins have allowed 70+ points only twice in their past ten games. So, don’t be surprised if it isn’t a high-scoring game.
That said, look for it to go over but not by a large margin and for Murray State to pick up the regular season sweep over Belmont. The Bruins have had the upper hand over the Racers since joining the OVC, winning 11 of 17 meetings, with Murray State’s win last month snapping Belmont’s four-game win streak in the rivalry.
This season, Murray State is the better team, and they will show that again tonight as they win their 17th straight OVC game and perhaps all but lock up an NCAA Tournament berth, regardless of what happens in next week’s conference tournament.