Don’t be deceived by Old Dominion’s 9-9 record as the Monarchs are one of the hottest teams in Conference USA after three consecutive road upset wins over East Carolina (81-70), Florida International (52-36) and Florida Atlantic (65-60). Old Dominion’s success is predicated upon a very good defense that is limiting opponents to just 63.6 points per game at home on 39.5% shooting from the field. Overall, the Monarchs are 6.7 points per game better than average defensively this season (64.5 points per game to teams that would combine to average 71.2 points per game), which is certainly good enough to slow down Southern Mississippi’s attack.
Indeed, the Golden Eagles are averaging a pedestrian 74.0 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 73.1 points per game to a mediocre offensive squad. Moreover, Southern Mississippi is averaging just 69.5 points per game on the road on 45.9% shooting from the field. Overall, the Golden Eagles are 0.9 points per game better than average offensively this season, which gives Old Dominion a significant 5.8 points per game advantage defensively in this contest. Let’s also note that the Monarchs are limiting conference opponents to just 55.3 points per game on 39.9% shooting from the floor.
Even better news for Old Dominion backers is the fact that guard Aaron Bacote, who missed Saturday’s game with a sprained ankle, has been upgraded to “probable” for tonight’s game against Southern Mississippi. Bacote’s presence on the floor is critical in that he leads the team in scoring with 17.5 points per game, while also boasting a team-high 57 assists on the year. From a technical standpoint, Southern Mississippi is 6-15 ATS on the road following a conference game and 10-22 ATS off three consecutive conference games. More importantly, Old Dominion applies to a very good 57-13-1 ATS home momentum situation that invests on certain home underdogs off two or more consecutive upset wins, provided they are matched up against a .550 or greater opponent.
We expect a lively crowd tonight at the Ted Constant Convocation Center for MIlitary Appreciation Night, and it’s the home court that will ultimately allow Old Dominion to win its fourth consecutive game as an underdog. New head coach Jeff Jones, who has been a head coach for 21 years and has five NCAA Tournament appearances to his credit, arrived in Norfolk during the offseason with renewed energy and passion. His team is reflecting that renewed energy as the Monarchs currently lead Conference USA and will maintain their status as the team to beat after another win tonight.