Drake vs Washington State Preview & Free Pick [3/21/24]

Drake (28-6) vs Washington State (24-9)
When: Thursday, March 21st, 2024
Where: CHI Health Center,
Omaha, NE

Time: 10:05 ET | TV: TRUTV
Opening Odds: Washington State -1/140

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The final game in Thursday’s first round of the NCAA Tournament has the 10th-seeded Drake Bulldogs taking on the seventh-seeded Washington State Cougars from Omaha, Neb. The Bulldogs are slight 1.5 point favorites with a total of 137.5. This will be Drake’s seventh appearance in the Big Dance, going 6-6 all-time. They have been eliminated in the first round in each of their last four appearances and haven’t reached the second round since 1971. Drake’s odds to win the tournament are 250-1, 50-1 to reach the Final Four, 14-1 to reach the Elite Eight and +575 to reach the Sweet 16.

The Cougs have been one of the surprise teams in the country this year and are making their first appearance in the tournament since 2008 and just the sixth appearance in school history. Like Drake, Wazzu is 6-6 all-time and were runners-up in 1941. They also made it to the Sweet 16 back in 2008 under head coach Tony Bennett, now with Virginia. The Cougars are 150-1 to win the tournament, 30-1 to reach the Final Four, 10-1 to reach the Elite Eight and +425 to reach the Sweet 16. The winner of this matchup will play either No. 2 Iowa State or No. 15 South Dakota State on Saturday.


Under is 21-7 in Drake’s last 28 Thu. games.
Under is 7-1 in Washington State’s last 8 games as an underdog.
Under is 5-2-1 in Washington State’s last 8 overall.


Drake finished 28-6 overall and beat Indiana State 84-80 for their third Missouri Valley Tournament title. The Bulldogs are led by Tucker DeVries, who averages the sixth-most points per game in the nation (21.8). DeVries is one of four double digits scorers for the Bulldogs, including Atin Wright (13.9 ppg), Kevin Overton (11.4 ppg) and Darnell Brodie (11.3 ppg). Wright has made 63 three-pointers and Overton has hit 60. Last season, Drake lost 63-56 to Miami in the first round of the NCAA tourney and the Hurricanes ended up in the Final Four.


Washington State posted a 24-9 overall record and fell to Colorado in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament. The Cougs are a very good shooting team (46.6 percent) and rank in the top-30 in blocked shots at 4.8 per game. Isaac Jones (15.4 ppg), Myles Rice (15.1 ppg), Jaylen Wells (12.2 ppg) and Andrej Jakimovski (10.0 ppg) are the top scorers. Rice leads Washington State in assists (3.9 per game) and steals (53), while Jones averages 7.4 rebounds per game. Wells and Jakimovski provide outside shooting with 65 and 64 three-pointers, respectively.


Washington State had a very good season but didn’t play great down the stretch. The Cougs went 3-3 over their final six games, while Drake won 10 of their last 11 including the Missouri Valley championship. Drake lacks the size, but will make up for it with their 3-point shooting. I’ll take the Bulldogs here.

Pick: Drake -1.5