Drake forward Tremell Murphy defending

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

Team Moneyline Spread Total
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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

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John Perrotto

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