Drake forward Tremell Murphy (2) tries to defend USC guard Drew Peterson (13) as he drives to the basket during the second half of a men’s college basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
- Drake is a 1.5-point favorite over Belmont in the first round of the ESPN Events Invitational
- Drake is 3-0 with average margin of victory of 26.0 points
- A look at the matchup and odds can be found below with a prediction
Two veteran teams square off when Belmont plays Drake at 7:30 p.m. ET Thursday night in a Thanksgiving game in the first round of the ESPN Events Invitational at HP Field House in Kissimmee, Fla.
Both teams return all five starters from last season.
Belmont (3-2) had its three-game winning streak snapped Monday night at LSU 83-53. Drake (3-0) beat Richmond 73-70 last Saturday at home to keep its perfect record intact.
Drake is a slight favorite in a game that will be televised by ESPNU. The winner play #10 Alabama (4-0) or Iona (5-0) in the semifinals Friday while the two losers meet in the consolation bracket.
Belmont vs Drake Odds
|Belmont||+114||+1.5 (-102)||Over 149.5 (-110)|
|Drake||-137||-1.5 (-120)||Under 149.5 (-110)|
Odds as of November 24th at FanDuel.
Muszynski Leads Belmont
Leading the way for Belmont this season is senior center Nick Muszynski.
Muszynski tops the team with 15.0 points and 6.2 rebounds a game while dishing an average of 3.0 assists. He is also one four Bruins working on his Master of Business Administration degree.
The Luke Smith, Grayson Murphy, Nick
Muszynski, 3 on 2, fastbreak, off a stolen pass…in all its glory pic.twitter.com/yQiuoexvKA
— wade ( i’m 6’2” ) (@WadeEvansMusic) November 27, 2020
Muszynski had an off night against LSU, though. He was held to four points, his first game in single digits this season, on 1-of-4 shooting.
Belmont shot just 32.3% (20 of 62) from the field and 25.6% (10 of 39) on three-pointers. Furthermore, the Bruins were outrebounded 42-31, outscored 50-20 in the paint and 21-8 on turnovers.
LSU shot 54.2% (34 of 59).
Junior guard Ben Sheppard scored 14 points for Belmont. That was just under his season average of 14.8.
Freshman guard Will Richard led Belmont with 16 points and had five rebounds, three assists and four three-pointers. The Fairburn, Ga,, native is averaging 12.0 points and 5.4 rebounds, earning regular minutes on a veteran squad.
ICYMI, Will Richard recently committed to Belmont University. Congrats to @The_WTR12 on his selection and to @BelmontMBB on a great addition @WoodwardBBall @WAWarEagles @ElitePInstitute @John_Morgo @CoachDLaB #SUVtv #ABACE pic.twitter.com/7vUCEsI7W2
— SUVtv (@SUVtv) August 18, 2020
Drake Record Spotless
Drake has won its three games by an average margin of 26.0 points despite its close call with Richmond over the weekend.
Senior forward Tremell Murphy led the Bulldogs with 18 points, including four three-pointers, to continue his strong start to the season. He has averages of 15.0 points and 6.3 rebounds.
— MVC Basketball (@ValleyHoops) February 14, 2021
Senior guard Roman Penn’s 12 points equaled his season average. He is also averaging 3.7 assists after helping Drake reach the NCAA Tournament last season, though his year was cut short by a broken foot.
Freshman wing Tucker DeVries has averages of 10.7 points and 5.3 rebounds. He contributed 11 points versus Richmond. DeVries was considered the top high school recruit in Iowa last season and is the son of Drake coach Darian DeVries.
— QuadVisual (@AveryQuad) February 27, 2021
Senior guard D.J. Wilkins added 10 points in the victory as Drake won despite committing 15 turnovers.
Belmont vs Drake Prediction
This is the first-ever meeting between the schools and it should be a Thanksgiving treat for hardcore college basketball fans. Belmont and Drake figure to be two of the better mid-major teams in the country this season.
Give the edge to Drake as it comes from a bit of a stronger conference – Missouri Valley vs. Ohio Valley – and has a dynamic duo in Murphy and Penn.
The Pick: Drake -1.5 (-120)
John Perrotto has been covering and writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has appeared in the likes of USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and more. John is based out of Beaver Falls, PA.