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Mid-Money Madness: Preview for the OVC semifinals, Mountain West, bubble matchups, and more

It’s going to be a late night tonight.

Northern Iowa v Drake Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

Did someone say March? The Mid-Money Madness column is back for the best two-week stretch of the year. We have a ton of action tonight, from the A-10 tourney, Arch Madness, OVC Semifinal games, and more. The column is a modest 11-11 on the year, and we are going to continue to try to give you guys some winners.

As always we write this article for entertainment purposes only. please wager responsibly.

All times listed are Eastern.

Northern Iowa vs. Drake, 6 p.m., ESPN+
Spread: Drake -6.5
Total: 140

The quest for a two-bid Valley has been put on thin ice after Drake closed the season with a disappointing loss to Bradley. The good news is that the Bulldogs still control their own destiny in the Missouri Valley tournament, and an appearance in the championship game SHOULD warrant their inclusion into March Madness. I feel this line is extremely short for this game. Drake has been the most profitable betting team in the country, going 20-5 ATS. They are getting a great matchup against a Northern Iowa team that struggles to defend the rim. The Panthers rank 304th nationally in two-point field goal percentage and 290th overall in effective field goal percentage. Drake guards excel at getting points driving to the rim. Drake ranks 29th nationally in two-point field goal percentage, making 54% of their shots from inside the arc. Northern Iowa does not have the perimeter defense to stop the Bulldogs.

The pick: Drake -6.5

Jacksonville State vs. Belmont, 8 p.m., ESPNU
Spread: Belmont -7.5
Total: 146

This OVC Semifinal matchup may be the most underrated game of the entire slate. The Bruins have been successful by simply playing Bruin basketball. Belmont ranks 47th nationally in offensive efficiency, eighth in effective field goal percentage, and the Bruins are shooting a ridiculous 60 percent from inside the arc. As crazy as it seems, this Belmont team may be more talented than the 2019 NCAA Tournament team that was led by first-round pick Dylan Windler. The Bruins have five shot-makers on the floor at all times and Jacobi Woods, Nick Muszynski, and Grayson Murphy make one the more talented trios in college basketball. However, Belmont has slipped up, losing two consecutive games to end the regular season without the services of Muszynski, who should be back tonight. Jacksonville State is one of the hottest teams in the conference, winning nine out of its last 10 games. Its lone loss came on the road against Belmont, where the Gamecocks held a lead with less than five minutes remaining. The Gamecocks are extremely athletic and they can give Belmont trouble in the half-court. Jacksonville senior center Brandon Huffman is one of the few guys in the conference who can matchup with Muszynski. I just think Jacksonville keeps this one close.

The pick: Jacksonville State +7.5

Cal Poly vs. UCSB, 8 p.m., ESPN3
Spread: UCSB -19.5
Total: 128.5

We’ve got a rivalry match up between the best team in the Big West and the worst team in the Big West. UCSB is coming off a beatdown against UC Riverside and it is going to take its frustration out on its cross-town rivals. I typically hate taking heavy favorites, but I can justify it here. Cal Poly is the worst offensive team in college basketball and is going against one of the best defenses in the conference. I don’t see a path where Cal Poly will be able to defend Jaquori McLaughlin. The Gauchos have won 12 out of their 17 games by double digits and have an opportunity to improve their NET and metrics ratings for the selection committee. Gauchos by a million.

The pick: UCSB -19.5

Colorado State at Nevada, 9 p.m., CBS Sports
Line: Pick em
Total: 145

This line screams TRAP, but we are falling for it anyway. The Rams have won a school-record 14 conference games and currently sit on the right side of the bubble. But a loss to Nevada tonight would ruin all of that. So we will be staying up late to watch this Mountain West matchup. The Rams have been an offensive juggernaut, ranking seventh nationally in effective field goal percentage. The Rams have a great inside-out offensive game led by David Robby and Isaiah Stevens. Robby has been a monster down low and is one of the more fun players to watch in mid-major hoops. Robby, who stands at just 6’5, dominates the interior, averaging 16.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. He is the Mountain West version of Charles Barkley. Stevens is a major threat from the outside, average 14.8 points per game while shooting 43 percent from three. This CSU duo allows the Rams to be one of the more offensively balanced teams in the country. On defense, the Rams are elite at defending the three, ranking 14th in defensive three-point percentage, which comes in handy against a Nevada team that ranks second in the conference in three-point attempts. Trust the Rams to get a much-needed win.

The pick: Colorado State

Loyola Marymount vs. San Francisco, 9 p.m., Stadium
Spread: USF -1.5
Total: 137.5

We have a really good matchup in the WCC tourney. LMU has surpassed expectations in Stan Johnson’s first season. The Lions were projected to finish seventh in the conference’s preseason poll but rallied to their first winning WCC record since the 2011-12 season. On the other side, USF is looking to get back on track after snapping a six-game losing streak with a first-round win against San Diego. The Dons have yet to find a flow to their offense since coming back from a COVID pause in February. I still believe Todd Golden is one of the brightest young coaches in the sport and USF probably has the best collection of talent in the conference outside of BYU and Gonzaga. USF shoots threes at the third-highest rate in the country, and LMU has struggled to defend the three-point line, ranking 240th in defensive three-point percentage. USF found its rhythm against San Diego and I think that continues into tonight.

The pick: San Francisco -1.5

Eastern Kentucky vs. Morehead State, 10:30 p.m., ESPNU
Spread: Morehead State -1.5
Total: 144

The Ohio Valley is playing on Big West time for its final game of the day. I guarantee it’s going to be worth staying up for. Morehead State is one of the hottest teams in college basketball, winning 15 out of its last 16. This is a game that will feature completely opposite styles. Eastern Kentucky is a team that thrives by scoring in transition and increasing tempo. Morehead is a defensive force who thrives playing in the half-court. Whoever controls the tempo most likely wins the game. The key for Morehead will be limiting turnovers, where it ranks 333rd nationally. If Morehead can take care of the ball, it should be able to score frequently on Eastern Kentucky and have time to set its defense.

The pick: Morehead State, moneyline -126