We are coming down the stretch for champ week and we have a hell of a slate of games Friday. I am 10-4 the last couple days picking mid majors and I’m hoping to keep the streak going while making the picks public. Here are the picks for most of the games on the mid-major slate.
Conference USA Tournament:
Western Kentucky pick em vs. Southern Miss: This number has been bouncing all over the place from Southern Miss (-2) to a pick em. Southern Miss is receiving 68 percent of the bets, but WKU has 45 percent of the dollars. It seems that sharp action is on the Hilltoppers, but I personally haven’t heard anything of substance to confirm the sharps are pulling a trigger on them. That being said, I picked the Hilltoppers to win the conference tournament before it started and I’m sticking with them here. If Western Kentucky can slow down the Golden Eagles from three they should cover easily.
The pick: Western Kentucky
Southland Conference Semifinal
Sam Houston St (-3) vs. New Orleans: The Bearkats went 16-2 in conference play and Jason Hooten has a squad full of snipers who shoot nearly 40 percent from three. New Orleans offense is abysmal, ranking 313rd in overall efficiency per KenPom. If Sam Houston finds its stroke, there is no chance that New Orleans keeps up.
The pick: Sam Houston (-3)
MAC Conference Semifinal
Buffalo (-7) 1st Half vs. Central Michigan: The Buffalo Bulls are on a mission and they are the class of the MAC. It is really hard not to pick coach Nate Oat’s squad in this spot. I’m going with the first half angle here to take out a potential of a backdoor cover. Bulls come out and dominate early.
The pick: Buffalo (-7) First Half:
Bowling Green (-2) vs. Northern Illinois: 10 seed Northern Illinois will try to pull off another massive upset when it faces Bowling Green. The Huskies’ upset No. 2 Toledo, 80-76, behind 26 points from Eugene German. German is shooting a ridiculous 66 percent from three during the tournament. The Huskies came into the conference with a below-.500 conference record. The Northern Illinois offense as been on fire, but I believe it is due to regress. Bowling Green is the more stable team and getting them at -2 is a great value. Take Bowling Green to get past Northern Illinois to set up a matchup with Buffalo.
The pick: Bowling Green (-2)
Atlantic 10 Quarterfinal
Dayton -4 vs. Saint Louis: Personally, I was able to load up on the Flyers at the perfect number at (-3). But even at -4, I believe there is still decent value on Dayton. Dayton has the front court to match up with the physicality of the Billikens. Saint Louis just played a tough game against Richmond where it trailed by double digits. I also don’t trust any team that shoots less than 60 percent from the free throw line. I took Dayton to win the A-10 and it cover easily against Saint Louis here.
The pick: Dayton (-4)
WAC Tournament Semifinal
New Mexico State (-9) vs. UTGRV: The Aggies have been the class of the WAC for over two decades now. Our own Greg Mitchell pegged them to run through the WAC tourney. They play a 14-man rotation and any one of them can go off and beat you. It’s one of the reasons why the Aggies are such a difficult team to prepare for. The public has gotten the message and are backing the Aggies with 91 percent of the bets today. Despite receiving 91 percent of the bets, UTGRV is receiving 71 percent of the dollars. The sharps are loading up on UTGRV, and for good reason. I was lucky enough to get the Vaqueros at +9.5. UTGRV is one of the under-appreciated stories in the WAC this season. NMSU, at times, has trouble taking care of the ball, so look for UTGRV to take advantage of those opportunities as they rank second in the country in defensive turnover percentage.
The pick: UTGRV (+9)
Grand Canyon Pick em vs. Utah Valley: As a GCU alum, this may come off as a homer pick, but I think the Lopes should get it done. They will have home court advantage and I’m not sure if that is being taking into account in this line. GCU is deadly when Carlos Johnson gets hot. He is coming off a game where he scored 31 points on 10-20 shooting against Seattle U. Utah Valley has been very good as well. This game feels like a toss up, but GCU is good for a late night pick.
The pick: Grand Canyon
Mountain West semifinal
Nevada (-10) vs. San Diego State, Total 141.5: My initial lean was San Diego State to cover. However I feel the safest angle to play is the first half under at 64.5. The first half under hit in both of the two teams previous matchups. Both teams are great defensively. So far, the Mountain West refs have been allowing a good amount of contact. Take the first half under here. It will serve you well.
The pick: First Half Under 64.5
Mountain West semifinal
Utah St (-4) vs. Fresno State total 144:
This total simply sits too low. Neither team plays extremely fast, but both are extremely efficient. Each team’s offense presents its own mismatches on that side of the ball. Fresno State is shooting 38 percent from three and Utah State ranks 250th in the country in three-point defense. On the other side, Utah State is second in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, and keeping the glass clean has sometimes been a problem for the Bulldogs. It’s always good to take the over when you have one of the best scoring guards in Sam Merrill on the floor.
The pick: Over 144