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Mid-Money Madness: December 2nd, “Maui” Edition

Let’s take a look at some plays for an exciting December 2nd college basketball slate

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Gonzaga Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Alas, we have our first Mid-Money Madness of the college basketball season. This is one of the few weeks where we get to enjoy day-time basketball, and dammit we are going to take advantage of it. I’ve started out the college basketball season is pretty hot, going 7-1 in the mid-major picks I’ve given out on my personal Twitter account, @amontgomerylive. So let’s give this slate a shot.

*As always gamble responsibly. We are not professionals. We write this article for entertainment purposes only. All lines taken from the DraftKings Sportsbook.

VCU at Penn State

Spread: VCU +4.5
Total: 144.5
TV: Fox Sports 1, 5:00 PM EST

In our first matchup, we travel to the great state of Pennsylvania to preview one of the most underrated games of the slate. Despite being picked to finish 5th in the A-10, VCU has shown that its young guys can play, dominating Memphis and Utah State and playing a very close game against West Virginia. Na’Shon Hyland has proven to be a very capable scorer and a stopper on the defensive end. VCU wing Vince Cole should give Penn State problems. The Nittany Lions are in a rebuilding year after losing dynamic front court duo Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins. They will play a smaller lineup and are not going to be able to bully this VCU team on the offensive glass. VCU has played quality competition that has more talent than Penn State, and this is the Nittany Lions’ first real test. VCU is the better team in this one and I have the Rams winning this one outright.

The pick: VCU +4.5

St. Johns vs. BYU

Spread: BYU -1.5
Total: 155
TV: ESPN2, 5 p.m. EST

This is the weirdest line on the board for me. KenPom has BYU projected to lose by a total of three points, yet the line is BYU -1.5. We just saw BYU get dominated by USC and they were generally overwhelmed by better athletes. St. John’s brings a similar style to the table. Former Iona coach Mike Anderson brought his up-tempo style of play to St. John’s and plays at the third fastest pace in the country. Forward Julian Champaign is an elite athlete who can shoot and get to the rim, and BYU doesn’t appear to have an answer for him. BYU has not been stout defensively, and are allowing teams to shoot 45.1 percent from three. St. John’s has a plethora of shooters. BYU should have a better showing than they did against USC; however, we have to take the line value with St. John’s in this one.

The pick: St. Johns +1.5

Gonzaga vs. West Virginia

Spread: Gonzaga -9
Total: 155
TV: ESPN, 7 p.m. EST

In case you haven’t heard, Gonzaga is pretty good at basketball. This is arguably Mark Few’s best team ever. They have five unquestionable NBA prospects in the starting five alone. They are number one in offensive efficiency and 16th in defensive efficiency. They score a million points, play great defense, and rebound the basketball. They literally do everything well. I am simply not betting against this team. West Virginia has a chance to be very good with Oscar Tshiwebe and Derek Culver in the front court. However, outside of those two guys, there is a major talent gap between these two teams. West Virginia’s only path of success is dominating the offensive boards. Mark Few is too good of a coach to let the Mountaineers beat them that way. West Virginia is miserable at times on the offensive end. Gonzaga will punish the Mountaineers by going on big runs when West Virginia loses its offensive rhythm. Give me the Zags.

The pick Gonzaga: -9.

UNLV vs. Davidson

“Maui” Invitational

Spread: Davidson -6.5
Total: 143.5
TV: ESPN2, 9:30 p.m. EST

The final game of the Maui Invitational features two of our favorite mid-majors. The market has adjusted to UNLV not being good. UNLV was a potential dark horse in the Mountain West, but after losses to Montana State, a blowout from UNC, and a second half collapse to Alabama, the Rebels have a long way to go. Despite two losses in “Maui”, Davidson has looked a lot better than their projected 9th place finish in the A-10 suggests. They took a top 20 Texas team to the final buzzer and lead for a majority of the game, and lost by one to Providence. While I want to take Davidson and the points, I can;t swallow the five point market jump overnight; UNLV was projected to be 1.5 point underdogs yesterday. Instead we are going to bet the over since neither team likes to play defense. UNLV has played at a faster pace this season with South Dakota State transfer David Jenkins running the point. UNLV shoots a lot of threes, 13th most in the country. Davidson has surrendered a lot of open looks from three and have gotten lucky that Texas and Providence couldn’t shoot. If UNLV can hit their shots, this will be a high scoring game. UNLV does not defend particularly well, either, ranking #222 in Effective FG% defense. The catch: they are playing a Davidson team that ranks 29th in the country in offensive efficiency. We get a offensively potent Davidson team playing at a faster pace, a UNLV team that shoot a lot of threes, two bad defenses, late night basketball, and soft Maui rims. I don’t know about you, but this one screams OVER for me. End the night by rooting for points!

The pick: Over 143.5