When the Southern Illinois Salukis visit the home of the Bradley Braves, many predict that the famous Missouri Valley home-court advantage will once again fall in favour of the Braves. This view is mirrored by the fact that the Salukis often fare severely poor when playing outside the confines of their comfort levels (along with several in-house issues). So, we may very well see Bradley sweep the Salukis next week. Most analysts are keen to take Bradley as their team of choice and the odds are highly stacked in their direction. Still, let us take a look at what we can expect when these two NCAA teams face off on the open court.
No Longer Underdogs
Some proponents of the Salukis will point out that Bradley has had a somewhat poor streak of recent losses, but we should recall that they were considered the underdogs in the majority of these games (included here are Wichita State and Indiana State). This should no longer be a factor, for the Salukis are ranked far below many of the teams that the Braves have recently faced. Also, Bradley is known as boasting a strong rebound percentage and good outside defence. This is actually significant, for they have a current average of approximately 33 per cent (compared to the national average of just over 31 per cent). Finally, they are quite strong in terms of three-point defence and have an overall solid defencive lineup. When combined with the well-known home-court advantage, it may very well take a miracle for the Salukis to walk away with a win.
The Salukis and Shooting
One of the perceived weaknesses of the Southern Illinois Salukis is their particularly dismal three-point percentage of less that 30 per cent. Also, they are not well equipped for field goals; only half will score points. Again, it can be observed that this team is respectable from inside of the arc in reference to their two point attempts, but the Braves are not likely to provide many chances for Southern Illinois to prove their prowess here. Another variable that will all but eliminate the viable chances for this opportunity is that the Salukis are severely poor in their offencive rebound capabilities. This may have a bit to do with the fact that their offence has not a single player that stands taller than 6’6”. Of course, they may be able to use all of these shortcomings to their advantage, as Bradley is likely to enter into the game extremely relaxed. If the coaches can muster up motivation and somehow improve their shooting game (perhaps emphasising a more robust offencive strategy), the Braves may just be caught by surprise.
However, the chances of this occurring are remote at best and it is likely that the Sadukis are already aware that they will be facing yet another loss against a team that already has a history of predictable wins. For those who love a long shot, this match may be quite the attractive option and only time will tell if the Braves will secure a further victory (although this team is by no means considered to be a top-tier contender).