Thursday Night NCAAM Pick: Nicholls vs. McNeese State Prediction

Jessica Gridiron
McNeese St. v Mississippi St.
McNeese St. v Mississippi St. / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

In tonight's Thursday Night Southland Conference NCAAM showdown, two conference rivals face off. The lackluster Nicholls Colonels head to the home of the slumping McNeese State Cowboys in tonight's prime-time battle. Let's dive into the Nicholls vs. McNeese State matchup in this forecast and determine the best bet for this Thursday Night NCAAM prediction.

Thursday Night NCAAM Pick: Nicholls vs. McNeese State Prediction

The Nicholls State Colonels won both matches against the McNeese State Cowboys last season. They currently own an 11-9 overall record and a 1-2 conference record. Nicholls is coming off of a loss to Southeastern Louisiana and will look to right the ship tonight.

McNeese State will seek revenge for last season's sweep by Nicholls and are coming into this game with an 8-12 overall record and 2-1 conference record. The Cowboys are entering this game off of a ten-point road win over Incarnate Word and will attempt to defend their homecourt as underdogs in this one.

Nicholls State Colonels

Dominating the Cowboys has been a regular occurrence for the Colonels. Nicholls State has won eight out of their last 12 games against McNeese State and will attempt to improve their dominance tonight. This season, the Colonels have battled in some high-level matchups, including a three-point loss to Wisconsin and a 14-point loss to a then-No. 3 Purdue team. 

Nicholls enters this game with the 193rd ranked adjusted offense efficiency according to KenPom – scoring 102.1 points per 100 possessions. This year, the Colonels own the 92nd best effective field goal percentage (eFG%) and protect the ball exceptionally well (65th in turnover percentage). Areas of improvement for this offense come down to their inability to get to the free-throw line (ranked 353rd in free throw rate) and their offensive rebounding percentage (140th).

Defensively, the Colonels are merely average. They rank between 199 and 223 in three out of the four Four Factors metrics, with the sole blemish being their free throw rate. Nicholls comes in at 341st in FT% and will be facing a team in McNeese that gets to the line at the 86th best rate in college basketball. If Nicholls wants to steal a win on the road, the free-throw line will be a crucial factor tonight.

McNeese State Cowboys

The Cowboys have quite the task at hand tonight. This season, they have faced some of the best defenses in college basketball and will be going up against a Nicholls State defense that is below average in multiple advanced metrics. If McNeese can clean up some of their offensive inadequacies tonight, they have a legitimate chance of upsetting Nicholls and protecting their home.

McNeese enters this game with the 310th ranked adjusted offensive efficiency according to KenPom – scoring 95.2 points per 100 possessions. The Cowboys own the 294th best eFG% and turn the ball over quite a bit (348th in turnover percentage). Although they have those two significant blemishes on the offensive side of the ball, the Cowboys collect offensive rebounds and get to the line with some of the best in college. If they can limit their turnovers and hit their shots, McNeese can steal this one tonight.

On defense, McNeese has some work to do as well. The Cowboys allow a 50.7% eFG which ranks 212nd in NCAAM and has a defensive rebounding percentage and free throw rate in the bottom half in college basketball. Luckily for McNeese, Nicholls is not a savvy free throw team and only rebound at an average rate.

Nicholls vs. McNeese Prediction and Pick

The Cowboys have some Louisiana home cooking working in their favor tonight. Add in the fact that they are 12-3 against the spread this season, including a perfect 10-0 record ATS as underdogs of 3.5 points or more. On the other hand, Nicholls owns a 10-5 ATS record overall and a poor 2-5 ATS record when playing as at least 3.5-point favorites. If McNeese can put together an efficient offensive performance where they get to the foul line early and often, they have a legitimate chance to steal a victory here at home. Take McNeese +4.5 expecting a tightly fought battle in which the Cowboys can potentially win this game outright.

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