We have another edition of Mid-Money Madness and we are ready for a great slate of basketball. In our first edition we went a modest 2-2 and are looking to improve upon that. The ACC/Big Ten Challenge headlines the day’s slate, but there is not an insignificant number of mid-major matchups that deserve the spotlight. We are going to cover all the big mid-major matchups on today’s slate, and hopefully make a little extra cash betting on them. As always, we advise to please bet responsibly. We write this column for entertainment purposes only and we are from far from professionals. All lines are taken from the DraftKings Sportsbook. Without further to do, the picks.
Rhode Island at Wisconsin
Line: Rhode Island +10.5
TV: 4:30 p.m. Eastern on the Big Ten Network
If you are familiar with this article, you will know how infatuated we are with Rhode Island’s Fatts Russell. The 2nd team Mid-Major Madness All American does it all for Rhode Island, averaging 17.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game this season. Even in the toughest matchups, the undersized Russell always seems to get it done. Rhode Island will have a brutal matchup against a highly ranked Wisconsin team that returns a majority of its production from last year. Rhode Island has already been battled tested this year, playing close against Arizona State and Boston College and winning against San Francisco and Seton Hall. Wisconsin lost in their only high-major test against Marquette and they did not look particularly good. Wisconsin’s defense has been great, ranking 6th in defensive efficiency, but they have a problems committing petty fouls and allowed Marquette to shoot 28 free throws in their last game. Rhode Island excels at getting to the free throw line, ranking 5th in free throw attempts per game. Rhode Island’s fast pace should get Wisconsin out of position and I expect Rhode Island to keep this one close. Give me Fatts Russell and the points.
The pick: Rhode Island +10.5
Furman at Cincinnati
Line: Furman +4
TV: 5:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN+
The preseason Southern Conference Team of the Year gets their first true test, playing a stout Cincinnati team. Furman has had a hot start to the year and their offense is thriving. There are very few good scoring combo wings as Noah Gurley and Jalen Slawson. The Paladins rank 2nd in the country in effective field goal percentage, and 29th in points per game. The problem is the Paladins have yet to play a top 200 opponent and they have played two non Division One programs. Cincinnati is a major step up in class and they are going to have to overcome a significant height disadvantage. The Bearcats have routinely been a stout defensive team and they rank 42nd in the country in defensive efficiency over two games. The main advantage the Bearcats have is in the rebounding battle. Cincy ranks 1st in the country in defensive rebounding percentage , while the Paladins rank 253rd in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, and 263rd in defensive rebounding percentage. While I am a huge fan of the Furman offense, and they will be a menace in the Southern Conference this year, this is simply the worst possible matchup for them. While learning how to bet college basketball, I had mentor tell me to never back a team with a significant rebounding disadvantage, because it never ends well. Furman does not have player taller than 6’8 or bigger than 215 pounds. It’s hard to task to physically matchup with one of the biggest teams in the country. With that said, we will pick Cincinnati to take care of business.
The pick: Cincy -4.
Northern Iowa at Richmond
Line: Richmond -8
TV: 6 p.m. Eastern on ESPN+
At the beginning of the season, this looked it was going to be a premier mid-major matchup. However, Northern Iowa fell on its face out of the gates, dropping their first three games against D1 competition. Even after a win against non Division One opponent St. Ambrose, things seem to be getting worse for the Panthers.
Reigning Missouri Valley Conference player of the Year AJ Green is out indefinitely as he seeks the best path forward to heal a hip injury. Sophomore guard Antwan Kimmons has taken a leave of absence from the team to return home to Minnesota to assist his family with challenges that have arisen from the pandemic. Senior forward Goanar Mar had his transfer waiver appeal denied by the NCAA. Freshman guard Tytan Anderson still is multiple weeks away from returning from a knee injury.
Now the Panthers have tough matchup against ranked Richmond, who has had one of the best starts of the season. For my money, there isn’t a better backcourt than Jacob Gilyard and Blake Francis in the entire country. Richmond handled Kentucky from start to finish and controlled the game against Wofford before a late Terriers comeback made the score closer than it seemed. Richmond has been excellent on the offensive end, ranking 45th in offensive efficiency. The Spiders are also great at defending the perimeter, ranking 54th in defensive three point percentage. Northern Iowa simply has too many injuries and missing pieces. Richmond rolls in this one. To protect from a back door cover we will take the first half in this one.
The pick: Richmond first half -4.5
Abilene Christian at Texas Tech
Line: ACU +15.5
TV: 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN+
What if I told you ACU was a top 10 team in point differential, outscoring their opponents by an average of 18.9 points per game. The Wildcats have been one of the best teams in the country from three point line to three point line. ACU ranks 7th in offensive 3 point field goal percentage and 7th in defensive 3 point field goal percentage. The Wildcats are a dangerous tournament team and are undervalued in this spot. Texas Tech has metrics on their side, ranking 1st in overall defensive efficiency and 29th in offensive efficiency, but they have played four opponents outside of the top 300. This is a matchup between two teams with essentially identical styles.
Both coaches have a strong ties with one another. ACU coach Joe Golding and Texas Tech coach Chris Beard were both assistants on the same ACU staff in the 1990s. If the spread is close late, I don’t expect Chris Beard will run up the score. Both teams play great defense and the pace will be extremely slow. With the way the Wildcats are playing, 15.5 points is too much against anybody. ACU coach Joe Golding is going to give his friend Chris Beard a major scare tonight. Take the Wildcats.
The pick: ACU +15.5
California at Pepperdine
Line: Pepperdine -3.5
TV: 9:00 p.m. Eastern on CBS Sports
If you are familiar with the column, you know we are huge fans of Pepperdine leading scorer Colbey Ross. Ross leads the Waves in a premier matchup against a Pac-12 school on CBS Sports Network. It’s the first time the Waves will host a Pac-12 school since 2012. The Waves will be eager for a big win. Pepperdine lead San Diego State by 14 points at halftime before blowing a lead in the second half, and took a good UCLA team to three overtimes. This is the matchup where the Waves finally finish the job and secure a big win. Cal is coming off a 20 point beatdown against UCLA and the line in this one is relatively short. Pepperdine should be a five or six point favorite, but the sportsbooks are slow to give them credit. Cal is one of the worst teams in the country when it comes to offensive ball security and rebounding. The Golden Bears won’t have an answer for Colbey Ross. The Waves should roll.
The pick: Pepperdine -3.5
Boise State at BYU
Line: BYU -4
TV: 9:00 p.m. Eastern on byutv.org
BYU’s Saturday night win against Utah State was absolute sh*t show. Boise State really hasn’t had the chance to look much better. The Mountain West night cap is a great way to end the basketball slate. Both teams came into the season with high expectations. This game should be fun to watch, as both teams rank in the top 130 when it comes to pace. Boise State has not shot the ball well so far, ranking 261st in three point percentage. That number should improve soon with sharpshooters Derrick Alston and Marcus Shaver on the roster. Both teams have potent offensive weapons. Boise State’s defensive numbers are significantly inflated after playing an NAIA school and Sam Houston State. Enjoy the potential chaos in this game and just take the over.
The pick: over 142.