Austin’s busy, so I thought I would offer up and fill in for him! I feel like I know my numbers well enough staring at score after score for years.
We have 60 mid-major games on the docket which means a lot of bets are to be placed. Five of those are on national television with a total of 18 conferences in action. So, pick your poison.
Opening action is the Ospreys of North Florida in Tallahassee at noon to face Florida State. Closing it up, we have two huge WCC matchups as San Francisco visits noted power team and totally not a mid-major, No. 1 Gonzaga on CBS Sports Network, along with a SoCal rivalry game between Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount on Bally Sports.
In between all of that, we have Belmont scratching and clawing for its at-large hopes on ESPN News, and Santa Clara visiting St. Mary’s in hopes for a five-bid WCC on CBS Sports Network.
The column’s record is 9-11, so I’m going to try and get us back to over .500. Some deep digging has landed me some numbers I like, but just like Austin, I am not a professional handicapper. Like always if you fade or tail, we encourage you to wager responsibly. Let’s enjoy another fun night of college hoops.
Belmont at Morehead State
Spread: Belmont -5.5
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN News
Opening your conference championship slate in March was the OVC title game. A young Morehead State team upset Belmont, 86-71, ending the Bruins season. Belmont didn’t get an at-large and decided to not play in the NIT, so 26-4 amounted to nothing but a regular-season title.
This season, Belmont has gotten out to a strong 14-4 start but its at-large chances just took a big hit as the Bruins were handed a thumping loss to Murray State on Saturday, 82-60.
Now, every game means more, and the Bruins have revenge on their mind. They’ve covered seven of the last nine as Morehead is 2-2 in OVC play so far ATS. Belmont has also played this week, beating SIUE by 16. Morehead picked up a struggle win at 7-10 Tennessee State. This Bruins team is as deep as ever, and you must think that Nick Muszynski and Grayson Murray want to make some noise on national television. I would take this up to eight.
The Pick: Belmont -5.5
Coastal Carolina at Georgia Southern
Spread: Georgia Southern -1
Tip-Off: 7:00 p.m. ET
It’s been tough times for both these teams, so a win is needed. But, looking at the KenPom ratings one team seems to be going up as the other is going down.
Georgia Southern has dropped three of its first four Sun Belt games with its only win being a squeaker against UT Arlington and has failed to cover in three of those four. Look at the Ken Pomeroy ratings, and the offense is yucky. It ranks 309 in the country in 3-point percentage, as their offense is 271 in adjusted efficiency.
On the other end, a Coastal Carolina team led by historic coach Cliff Ellis is ranked in the top 200 of both offensive and defensive efficiency, owning the offensive boards while not letting opponents shoot all that well against them.
The biggest matchup discrepancy comes with Coastal star Essam Mostafa. He has owned the boards, as Georgia Southern has no one near his size to match up strongly against him. This season he is averaging 15.5 points and 9.9 rebounds. Last season against GSU, he had 25 points and 19 rebounds in 61 minutes of action, covering the spread in two of three.
The Pick: Coastal Carolina +1
Detroit Mercy at Green Bay
Spread: Detroit Mercy -5.5
Tip-Off: 8:00 p.m. ET
Covering in four of its last five, Detroit Mercy has played itself into being one of the top teams in the Horizon League.
The Titans offense led by Antoine Davis is as strong as ever, ranking in the top 100 of the country in 3-point percentage, and free-throw shooting. All three of their league wins have been blowouts, as the losses, albeit good, have been close.
On the other end of the spectrum, Green Bay has looked awful, getting blown out by UIC and Milwaukee of late. Green Bay also ranks in the bottom 30 of the country in adjusted tempo, adjusted efficiency, and 3-point shooting, something that the Titans are very good at.
Detroit Mercy swept the season series last year, winning the first matchup by 25. This happens to be the first matchup between the two this season. I’d once again take it up to eight.
The Pick: Detroit Mercy -5.5
Santa Clara at St. Mary’s
Spread: St. Mary’s -9
Tip-off: 9:00 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
Over the years, WCC unders have lived in Moraga. Since 2014, these teams have played no closer than five points within tonight’s total. Last season, only once did a team scored more than 66 points in Moraga and that total was still 6.5 points away from 138.5
The Gaels run the 318-ranked adjusted tempo, as the defense ranks 10th in efficiency. Santa Clara’s defense ranks 303 in opponents’ average possession length, which plays perfectly into St. Mary’s style.
Against other known defensive stalwarts such as Fresno State, UC Irvine, Cal, and Boise State, the Broncos of Santa Clara have scored no more than 64 points.
The Pick: Under 138.5 (best bet)
Pepperdine at Loyola Marymount
Spread: Loyola Marymount -11
Tip-off: 11:00 p.m. ET
TV: Bally Sports
As the eyes of the college basketball world will be focused on a WCC matchup in Spokane, my eyes will be in Los Angeles. What better place to end a long night of hoops?
Rivalry games tend to be close, and that’s what happens when these two teams face off. A young Pepperdine team had seemed to find its stride towards the end of non-conference, as Loyola Marymount continues what has been a disappointing season after preseason hype.
Pepperdine has won three of four against the Lions, as the last five have all been decided by double digits.
It comes down to turnovers, and that is something that Loyola Marymount does a lot: turn the ball over on offense. That is a strong suit on the Waves defense as they rank 47 in the country in non-steal turnovers.
The Pick: Pepperdine +11