Western Illinois vs. Little Rock Prediction, Odds and Key Players for Ohio Valley Semifinal (Take the Points)

College basketball betting preview, prediction and best bet for Western Illinois-Little Rock. 

November 27, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin; Western Illinois center Drew Cisse (23) dunks the ball
November 27, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin; Western Illinois center Drew Cisse (23) dunks the ball / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA TODAY

Little Rock hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2016, but they’re talking about March Madness in Arkansas after the Trojans’ late-season surge.

Little Rock ended the regular-season slate on a nine-game winning streak to win the conference and earn the No. 1 seed in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.

Western Illinois had a solid streak, too. The Leathernecks went on a 5-1 run ahead of the conference tournament, earning a first-round bye before getting past Tennessee State in the quarterfinals, 61-59.

Here’s the betting breakdown of the semifinal matchup with a best bet. 

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Western Illinois vs. Little Rock  Odds, Spread and Total

Western Illinois vs. Little Rock Betting Trends

  • Western Illinois is 14-13-1 ATS this season
  • Little Rock is 18-13 ATS this season
  • Western Illinois is 8-6 ATS as an underdog this season
  • Little Rock is 12-6 ATS as a favorite this season
  • The OVER is 9-19 in Western Illinois games this season
  • The OVER is 15-15-1 in Little Rock games this season

Western Illinois vs. Little Rock How to Watch

  • Date: Friday, March 8
  • Game time: 8 p.m. EST
  • Venue: Ford Center
  • How to watch (TV): ESPNU/ESPN+
  • Western Illinois record: 21-11
  • Little Rock  record: 20-11

Western Illinois vs. Little Rock Key Players to Watch

Western Illinois

Drew Cisse: The senior center is a complimentary scorer at 8.6 points per game while shooting 60.6% from the field but cleans up on the glass. The San Diego native averages 11.1 rebounds and pulled down a dozen boards in Thursday’s tournament win over Tennessee State. He has five double-doubles on the year. 

Little Rock 

KK Robinson: Little Rock had a different leading scorer in each of its last four games and it was Robinson, the team’s highest scorer on the year (15.8 points per game), who took control in the regular-season finale against Tennessee Tech March 2, scoring 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Robinson had 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting in the previous matchup against Western Illinois. 

Western Illinois vs. Little Rock Prediction and Pick 

Little Rock stormed back from a 10-point deficit on the road to beat Western Illinois Feb. 8 by three points. Does defense win championships? It can at least cover spreads. Western Illinois is No. 14 in the nation in effective field goal percentage and forces stops without getting a lot of turnovers.

The Leathernecks are No. 2 in the Ohio Valley Conference in scoring, permitting just 65.2 points per game and smothers the perimeter as the No. 12 team in KenPom defending 3-point shots.

In the previous matchup, Little Rock was able to shoot 50.9% from the field despite Western Illinois dominating the rebounding battle (40-29) while forcing 14 turnovers.

On the other side, Western Illinois season-long metrics on offense are scary as the No. 312 team in effective field goal percentage, but they’ve been better in conference play.

They rank No. 4 in efficiency and 3-point shooting in the OVC. Once again, they’ll have a big advantage on the glass as the No. 13 offensive rebounding team in the nation against a Little Rock defense that is No. 227 in allowing second-chance opportunities. Take the points with Western Illinois. 

Game odds update periodically and are subject to change.