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As one of last year's Cinderella teams, La Salle is on the verge of not making this year's tournament. With a 12-10 record and an unlikely shot at winning the Atlantic 10 tourney, the Explorers need to get their act together, fast. It starts with this home game against Saint Louis, a top 15 team at 21-2 that hasn't lost a conference game yet.
From a betting standpoint, this matchup is pretty interesting. The Billikens have alternated wins and losses against the spread in nine straight contests (9-11 ATS on season), but are going against an Explorers team that's been worse at 4-14-1 ATS all year.
Saint Louis has won 15 straight games, and like most college teams isn't all that consistent. The Billikens had a nice win at St. Joseph's on Wednesday, but were coming off an overtime home win against George Mason, the worst team in the conference. Results like this can be seen throughout the year and if the trend proves worthy, this one will be a close game.
The Explorers started 5-0 in conference play, but have since lost four of their last five games. Three of those have been on the road, but that's still no excuse, as they lost by at least 12 points in all three of those road games.
La Salle is in a dire situation and need a win like this game to get going and make one last run at a possible tourney appearance. Without a win here, the Explorers will be no one's Cinderella.
Much like last season, Saint Louis has a great all-around team that can get points from a number of players. Jordair Jett (12.7 PPG, 4.9 APG) runs the team and does pretty much everything while Dwayne Evans (14.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG) works down low as an atypical big man. Actual big man Rob Loe (10.1 PPG) stretches the floor with his three-point ability and allows Evans to work in the paint. Throw in a couple more shooters in Austin McBroom and Mike McCall Jr. and this team is hard to keep down with so many options. They lack size, but make up for it in other areas.
The Explorers have a similar build, but don't really have that big man that can shoot. Tyreek Duren (14.5 PPG) and Tyrone Garland (13.9 PPG) run the show and are a great one-two punch in the backcourt. Neither one of them has had a great season shooting from the field and if they want to turn things around, that'll be the first thing that needs to change. Jerrell Wright (12.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG) will get the task of defending Evans, while Steve Zack (9.5 PPG, 9.6 RPG) will be matched up with Loe. Wright and Zack are good players, but they aren't going to win a game like Dureen and Garland can.
La Salle knows its season could very well be on the line here and we already saw what they did in one-and-done situations last year. Can the Explorers relive that magic and make a final run to close out the season? The Billikens have their eyes on the postseason and will take this like any other game. It should end up being a competitive one, at the least.
Predicted Score - La Salle 64 St. Louis 62
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