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Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. Marquette Golden Eagles Expert Pick – March 22, 2024

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. Marquette Golden Eagles Expert Pick – March 22, 2024

WESTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY VS. MARQUETTE GOLDEN EAGLES EXPERT PICK – MARCH 22, 2024 — Greetings, basketball fans. Welcome back to our NCAA tournament coverage here at Godzilla Wins. One of the games on tap from the first-round slate of games features the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (22-11) taking on the Marquette Golden Eagles (25-9).

Here is a look at which squad has the edge going into this matchup and why.



Friday, March 22, 2024

Time: 2:00 PM ET

Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse

Location: Indianapolis, IN



Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. Marquette Golden Eagles Odds






Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

(22-11 SU)





Marquette Golden Eagles

(25-9 SU)





Odds courtesy of DraftKings

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. Marquette Golden Eagles – Regular Season Stats & Betting Trends

Can WKU Push Its Winning Streak To Four Games?

 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Season Stats:

  • Scoring Offense: 80.6 PPG – 31ST
  • Offensive Efficiency: 106.0 points per 100 possessions – 187TH
  • Scoring Defense: 74.1 PPG – 252ND                  
  • Defensive Efficiency: 97.4 points per 100 possessions – 33RD

The Hilltoppers jumped out to a 19-7 record before hitting a late-season slump in which they dropped four straight contests. However, they bounced back from that skid and have posted wins in each of their last three outings.

Related: Auburn vs. Yale Expert Pick

This includes a 78-71 win over UTEP on Mar. 16. Three of the team’s starting five scored in double figures. Don McHenry spearheaded the scoring attack with 25 points on 9-for-16 shooting from the field. He also tallied five rebounds and four steals.

Brandon Newman added 15 points and two steals, while Khristian Lander contributed 11 points, six rebounds, and four steals.

“I’m obviously extremely proud of these guys,” first-year WKU Head Coach Steve Lutz said, via “They battled through a lot of adversity toward the end of the season and when it was time to tune out all of the outside noises and to band together and play for one another, they did it.”

“That’s hard to do in today’s age with social media and people always coming at you from a lot of different angles, but, to me, that just shows the character of these young men. They cared more about Western Kentucky and winning and going to the NCAA Tournament than maybe scoring a few extra points. They deserve all of the credit. Everybody that’s out there watching – these are guys that you’re going to want to employ down the road because they’re winners and they’re about the right stuff.”

Western Kentucky held UTEP to 38.3 percent shooting from the field en route to the team’s first-ever Conference USA Tournament Championship. If the Hilltoppers can replicate their defensive effort against Marquette, they “may” have a puncher’s chance at pulling off the upset.

Can The Golden Eagles Bounce Back From Yet Another Setback Against UConn?

 Marquette Golden Eagles Season Stats:

  • Scoring Offense: 78.3 PPG – 60TH
  • Offensive Efficiency: 112.6 points per 100 possessions – 53RD        
  • Scoring Defense: 69.7 PPG – 104TH
  • Defensive Efficiency: 100.2 points per 100 possessions – 89TH

Meanwhile, the Golden Eagles come into this matchup having won three of its last four decisions. Unfortunately, their three-game winning streak was snapped with a 73-57 loss to the UConn Huskies on Mar. 16. This marked the third time that Marquette has lost to the Huskies this season.

In that contest, Kam Jones scored a team-high 13 points along with eight rebounds and four assists. But he connected on just five of his 17 attempts from the floor.

David Joplin added 12 points and six rebounds on 4-for-12 shooting from the field. He also missed each of his six attempts from beyond the arc.

“Today was rough for sure,” David Joplin said after the game “We’ve got a great team, and we’ve got a great chance to play well in the (NCAA) Tournament, and that’s all you need is a chance.”

Earlier I mentioned that Western Kentucky held its last opponent to 38.3 percent shooting. Well, the Golden Eagles are just as good at that end of the floor.

In their last five contests, only one team shot better than 46 percent from the field. Even in the pair of losses to UConn during that stretch, Marquette held them to 43.3 and 45.6 percent, respectively. In a battle between two capable defensive squads, the team to reach the 80-point mark should come out on top here.

Now that we have set the table for this first-round matchup, let’s look at the betting trends for both sides.

The Spread

The Eagles opened as a 14-point favorite. At the time of this writing, the line has moved to 14.5 points (per Here is a look at how both ball clubs have fared against the spread this season.

  • The Hilltoppers are 4-1 ATS in their last five contests.
  • In its last 10 games as the underdog, Western Kentucky is 8-2 against the spread.
  • The Golden Eagles are 11-4 ATS in their last 15 outings.
  • In its last eight Friday appearances, Marquette is a perfect 8-0 against the spread.
  • The Golden Eagles have covered the spread in the last 10 instances in which they were installed as the favorite.

Prediction: Golden Eagles (-14.5)


The projected over/under total for this matchup opened at 159.5 points. The line has moved to 158 points (per DraftKings). Here are a few reasons that suggest why going with the “over” is the smart choice.

  • The total has gone OVER four times in the Hilltoppers’ last five outings.
  • The OVER total has prevailed in Western Kentucky’s last five March contests.
  • The two teams average a combined 158.9 points per game, which is nearly a half-point more than the projected total.

Prediction: OVER 158 points

Player Prop Bets

The key player to watch for Western Kentucky is Don McHenry He currently has -110 odds of scoring more than 13.5 points and -120 odds of finishing with less than 13.5 points.

Here is a glance to see how his numbers stack up against the projected points total for this matchup.

  • During the season, McHenry averaged 15.3 points per game across 33 outings.
  • In his last 10 outings, he has averaged 14.4 points per contest.
  • During the month of March, McHenry is averaging 12.2 PPG on 43.9 percent shooting from the floor and just 20.8 percent from beyond the arc.

Prediction: Don McHenry OVER 13.5 points

The key player to watch for the Golden Eagles is Kam Jones. He currently has -125 odds of scoring more than 19.5 points and -105 odds of scoring less than 19.5 points.

  • During the season, Jones averaged 16.8 points per game across 33 appearances.
  • In his last 10 outings, he has averaged 22.5 points per contest.
  • During the month of March, Jones is averaging 20.8 points per game on 50.5 percent shooting from the floor, including a 45.7 percent effort from beyond the arc.

Prediction: Kam Jones OVER 19.5 points

James Tillman’s Hilltoppers vs. Golden Eagles Picks

Spread: Golden Eagles (-14.5)

Over/Under: OVER 158 points

Player Prop Bet #1: Don McHenry OVER 13.5 points

Player Prop Bet #2: Kam Jones OVER 19.5 points

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