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Mid-Money Madness: Betting tonight’s crucial Dayton vs. Rhode Island game and more

Tuesday’s mid-major slate is loaded and it starts with the Rams and Flyers

NCAA Basketball: Rhode Island at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

After a brief hiatus, Mid-Money Madness is back for the middle of conference play. The column was unimpressive in 7-10 during weekday games earlier in the season, but we are due to bounce back in 2020. Here are some picks we like for Tuesday slate.

*Reminder we are bloggers not professional bettors. We put out this column for entertainment purposes only, so please gamble responsibly.

*All lines posted at the published date of the article come from Draftkings sportsbook.

Rhode Island @ Dayton (-10) Total 147

7:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network

To beat Dayton, you have to be physical and rebound well. Rhode Island is great at doing both and is an excellent offensive rebounding team. The Rams rank 79th overall in offensive rebounding percentage and should be able to steal easy second-chance points.

The Flyers struggled against a physical Saint Louis team their last time out. The Billikens had a chance to upset the Flyers in Dayton, but were unable to make key shots down the stretch.

Rhode Island has a veteran ball-handler and a tough shot maker in Fatts Russell (20.3 points per game) who is capable of making those shots on the road. Russell will be the difference maker in this contest and has shown up in big games throughout his career.

Also, the Rams have the best perimeter defense Dayton has faced all season. The Rams rank seventh nationally in three-point defense, allowing opponents to shoot 28.2 percent from three. This will be a matchup that features strength on strength. Dayton has the best offensive player in the country in Obi Toppin and he probably makes a series of plays to take over this game. Dayton wins, but has to sweat this one out.

The pick: Rhode Island +10

Eastern Michigan @ Central Michigan (-6.5) Total 137.5

7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Nothing feels more right than betting MACtion on a Tuesday afternoon, and these teams are polar opposites when it comes to style.

Eastern Michigan is ranked 36th in overall defensive efficiency, but ranks 300th or worse in virtually every offensive category. While the Chippewas play fast and up-tempo on offense, they are mediocre on defense. The Chippewas average 81.9 points per game (fifth in the country), but have below-average efficiency metrics, ranking 221 in effective field goal percentage.

CMU has faced one of the worst schedules against opposing defenses — Eastern Michigan will be their toughest defensive test since playing at Purdue. Look for this rivalry game to be ugly. Eastern Michigan will limit Central Michigan’s explosive offense, while the Eagles will struggle to score on just about anyone. Eastern Michigan will see an uptick in pace and should see more possessions. Despite that, I still like the under in this game.

The pick: under 137.5

Utah State @ Colorado State (+1.5) Total 144

9:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network

Utah State is on the bubble and this is its last chance to impress to committee during the regular season. The Aggies will have a chance to pick up a quadrant two win against a red-hot Colorado State team that has won eight out of nine. Despite starting conference play 0-3, the Rams have climbed the Mountain West conference standings, sitting at second place with an 8-4 league record. I believe the Aggies will deliver an impressive showing in a must-win game.

Utah State’s three-point shooters have been ice cold, shooting a conference-low 28.2 percent from the three point line. That seems like a preposterous stat considering the Aggies have world-class shooters Sam Merrill, Abel Porter, and Brock Miller. They’re long overdue for positive aggression, and they will have a good chance to see their shots fall against a Colorado State defense that ranks 236th in three-point field goal percentage (34.0 percent).

The Rams have been hot and are 7-1 ATS after a win. They’ve also covered their last five games as an underdog. Niko Medved’s squad is a rising program heading in the right direction, but I have to back the more talented and experienced Aggies in this match. The Aggies learned from their road loss against SDSU and will pull out a win in Moby Arena. The dream for a two-bid MWC will still be alive after tomorrow.

The pick: Utah State (-1.5)

San Diego State (-15) vs New Mexico Total 145

11 p.m. ET, ESPN 2

Two weeks ago I made one of the worst decisions of my life, betting a short-handed New Mexico team to beat San Diego State in the Pit. I won’t make that mistake again.

The Aztecs demolished the Lobos, jumping out to a 17-0 lead and hitting 10-18 from three in the first half, en route to an 85-67 victory. Paul Weir will have point guard JaQuan Lyle and forward Vance Jackson at his disposal in their match Tuesday night, but I don’t think it makes much of a difference.

New Mexico has been horrendous defensively all year, especially against the three, where the Aztecs rank 13th in the country. The Aztecs had their way offensively against the Lobos in the first match and Tuesday’s should feature much of the same.

The Lobos will get offensive production from Lyle and Jackson. The Aztecs have been brilliant defensively, but New Mexico’s top-ranked offense should be able to generate points. New Mexico’s up-tempo pace will allow the Aztecs’ explosive offense to have more possessions. Look for San Diego State to put on a show in front of a national audience at ESPN2.

15 points is a lot to give up, so betting the over seems like the safer play in this scenario.

The pick: SDSU -8.5 First Half And Over 145.