In tonight’s Thursday Night Southland conference NCAAM showdown, two conference rivals go head-to-head. Nicholls’ lackluster Colonels head home from the plummeting McNeese State Cowboys in tonight’s primetime battle. Let’s dive into the Nicholls vs. McNeese State game in these predictions and figure out the best bet for this NCAAM prediction on Thursday night.

The Nicholls State Colonels won both games 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 a loss to Southeast Louisiana and will be looking to right the ship tonight.

McNeese State will seek revenge for last season’s sweep by Nicholls and enter this game with an 8-12 overall record and a 2-1 conference record. The Cowboys come into this game fresh off a ten-point road win over Incarnate Word and will look to defend their home turf as underdogs in this one.

Nicholls State Colonels

Dominating the Cowboys is a regular occurrence for the Colonels. Nicholls State have won eight of their last 12 games against McNeese State and will look to improve their dominance tonight. This season, the Colonels have battled in high-profile 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 offensive efficiency according to KenPom – scoring 102.1 points per 100 possessions. This year, the Colonels have the 92nd best field goal percentage (eFG%) and protect the ball exceptionally well (65th in turnover percentage). Areas for improvement on this offense boil down to their inability to reach the free throw line (ranked 353rd in free throw rate) and their offensive rebound percentage (140th).

Defensively, the Colonels are simply average. They rank between 199 and 223 in three of four metrics across the four factors, with the only flaw being their free throw rate. Nicholls is ranked 341st in FT% and will face a McNeese team that reaches the line at the 86th best 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 job to do tonight. This season they have faced some of the best defenses in college basketball and will face a Nicholls State defense that is below average in several advanced metrics. If McNeese can clean up some of their offensive inadequacies tonight, they have a legitimate chance to upset Nicholls and protect 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 have the 294th best eFG% and turn the ball around quite a bit (348th in turnover percentage). Despite having those two significant flaws on the offensive side of the ball, the Cowboys are picking up offensive rebounds and getting to the line with some of the college’s best. If they can limit their turnovers and hit their shots, McNeese can steal this one tonight.

On defense, McNeese also has work to do. The Cowboys allow a 50.7% eFG that ranks 212th in the NCAAM and has a defensive rebound percentage and free throw rate in the bottom half of college basketball. Luckily for McNeese, Nicholls is not a free-throw savvy team and only rebounds at an average rate.

The Cowboys have home cooking from Louisiana working in their favor tonight. Add to that the fact that they are 12-3 ATS this season, including a perfect 10-0 ATS record as 3.5-plus underdogs. On the other hand, Nicholls owns an overall 10-5 ATS record and a poor 2-5 ATS record when playing as a favorite by at least 3.5 points. If McNeese can put together an effective offensive performance where they hit the foul line early and often, they have a legitimate chance of stealing a win here at home. Take McNeese +4.5 expecting a close battle in which the Cowboys can potentially win this game.

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