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Southern Utah Thunderbirds to Keep Rolling vs Portland State Vikings

NBAAC Betting Preview for Thursday

The Southern Utah Thunderbirds go for an eighth-straight victory when they visit the Portland State Vikings for a Big Sky Conference contest on Thursday night. The Thunderbirds and Vikings will also play on Saturday to wrap up both teams’ regular-season schedules.

Southern Utah (17-3) is currently 10-2 in conference play, putting it slightly ahead of both Weber State and Eastern Washington, who have 11-3 records against Big Sky competition. Two games remain on Weber State’s  schedule, while Eastern Washington has just one left, after it fell to Idaho State on Wednesday.

Trey Kennedy of the Southern Utah Thunderbirds looks to pass under pressure from Christian Wood of the UNLV Rebels
Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

Portland State (9-10) has won five of its last six contests and is hoping to move into the top five of the Big Sky standings to earn a first-round bye in next week’s conference tournament. The Vikings are 6-6 in conference play, a game behind fifth-place Montana State, entering Thursday-night action.

When you go to bet online on this contest, Southern Utah is a two-point favorite on the road, with the over/under set at 148.

Looking To Finish

The Thunderbirds are looking to complete a sweep of their last nine games of the season to earn the top seed in next week’s Big Sky tournament in their attempt to advance to NCAA March Madness. The offense has been red hot during the current streak, averaging 91.1 points over the last seven games.

Dre Marin had a big two games against North Arizona, averaging 20.5 points and shooting 64% from the field, earning Player of the Week honors in the Big Sky for the first time in his career. The senior guard is averaging 12.0 points on the season, connecting on 44.8% from 3-point range.

Junior guard Tevian Jones paces the Thunderbirds with 17.2 points per game, including a team-high 50 3-pointers. Junior forward Maizen Fausett adds 14.2 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game, hitting 56.1% of his field-goal attempts.

While the Southern Utah offense has been great, the defense could use a little work, especially against conference opponents. Overall, the Thunderbirds allow 69.7 points per game, but that number jumps against Big Sky opponents to 73.7 points per game, 10th in the 11-team league.

Winning With Defense

The Vikings have been doing their work on the defensive end of the floor, holding their last 11 opponents to 70 points or less. During its string of seven wins in nine games, Portland State is making college basketball news by allowing just 58.9 points per game while forcing 18.2 turnovers a contest.

The offense has come alive a bit as well, shooting over 50% three times in the last six games. Senior guard James Scott is coming off a big game against Northern Colorado on Saturday, finishing with 19 points and six assists.

Scott leads the Vikings with 13.1 points and 2.8 assists per game. Senior forward Khalid Thomas is second on the team in scoring with 11.0 points per contest while sharing the rebounding lead with 5.0 per game.

Portland State is without senior center Amari McCray (10.7 points, 5.0 rebounds), who suffered a season-ending knee injury in early February. The team’s most efficient shooter from long range is freshman guard Paris Dawson, who is hitting 41.2% from 3-point range and averages 8.5 points per game.

Clash of Strengths

Portland State has won its last three home games and is 7-4 at home this season. Meanwhile, the Thunderbirds, for all their success, are just 3-3 on the road in 2020-21.

Southern Utah can score with the best of them, but Portland State’s defense is hot as well, which should make this matchup (and Saturday’s) very interesting. In the end, the Thunderbirds should be able to put enough points on the board to maintain their hold on first in the Big Sky.

When doing your college basketball betting, take Southern Utah to win and cover on the road.

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