The Mid-Money Madness article is back for another wild Thursday. Nick Lorensen filled in for me last week going an impressive 3-2 to bring the column record to 12-13 overall.
We hope to bump that record to above .500 after tonight. There are over 60 mid-major games on the slate today. Action opens up with Eastern Kentucky traveling to Florida Gulf Coast at 5:00 p.m. ET. It ends with late night action as CSUN travels to the Big Island with a midnight ET tip at Hawaii.
As always, here to remind you 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.
Gardner Webb @ UNC Asheville
Spread: UNCA -1
Tip off: 7:00 p.m. ET
Let’s start with the Big South game that is airing on ESPNU. It’s a Bulldogs vs Bulldogs game, and even if it becomes a dud, we have a good chance of enjoying some pleasant mascot dog cameos throughout the contest.
The Gardner Webb Bulldogs lost their third straight game and dropped to 9-10 on the season after being defeated by the Winthrop Eagles, 64-62, this past Saturday. Gardner-Webb led 45-35 midway through the second half, but Winthrop went on a 17-6 run over the next four minutes and never looked back.
Both Gardner Webb and Asheville have been great at covering numbers. Asheville is 9-5 against the number while Gardner Webb is 11-5. Both are elite at defending the 3-point line; UNCA ranks second nationally in 3-point defense while Gardner Webb ranks 13th.
The team that will win the battle in the paint is going to have a major advantage here with the long ball likely getting shut down. Gardner Webb ranks 96th in scoring defense and is in the top 30 in defensive FG% overall. UNC Asheville has a game changing big with Drew Pember (15.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.5 apg, 3.6 bpg.) Jalen Terry is the main guy for Gardner Webb at 14 points per game. Gardner is just 2-8 on the road, but I think the Bulldogs can give UNCA’s offense some fits here. I think with both defenses having it’s own advantages, we are going to take the under. We will also be enjoying the dog cameos.
The pick: Under 139.5
Northeastern @ UNC Wilmington
Spread: UNCW -4.5
Tip off: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV/Stream: Flo Sports
Let’s talk about the wild ride that has been the Colonial Athletic Conference. I understand the common college basketball fan can’t follow this conference without a Flo Sports subscription so let me give you the rundown.
The conference has been flipped upside down compared to preseason projection. UNCW was picked to finish at the bottom of the conference, yet three months later is the only unbeaten team in the conference.
On the flip side, Northeastern was projected to have a top-two finish in the conference and is the only team that hasn’t won a conference game. Another case of college basketball causing anarchy.
Well, there needs to be some normalcy restored. Credit to UNCW for winning nine straight games and beat Northeastern 74-68 on the road earlier this week. In that game Northeastern actually had a better shooting percentage hitting 46% of their shots against UNCW’s 40%. I like Northeastern in an early revenge spot and we see a little bit of regression from UNCW. Northeastern gets its first home win or at least keep this one close.
The pick: Northeastern +4.5
UAB @ Western Kentucky
Spread: Western Kentucky +3.5
Tip off: 9:00 p.m. EST
TV/Stream: CBS Sports Network
A huge Conference USA tip off at CBS Sports Network. UAB is looking to continue its domination of the conference.
The Blazers are coming off an epic 83-76 road win against Louisiana Tech behind star Jordan Walker’s 36 points and shot a ridiculous 9 of 15 from deep.
UAB struggles against zone defenses and this Western Kentucky defense with 7-foot-5 Jamarion Sharp in the middle.
This line is pretty fishy when you consider the Hilltoppers have dropped three straight and they only get three points against the top dog in the conference. Rick Stansbury is notoriously great as a home underdog. This is just a good spot for Western and a trap game for UAB.
I trust Slick-Rick to work his home underdog magic once again. Give me the Hilltoppers at home.
The pick: Western Kentucky +3.5
CSU Fullerton @ UC Davis:
Spread: UC Davis +1
Tip off: 9:00 ET
TV/Stream: ESPN +
We got West Coast Brews to sweat out a Thursday. Fullerton has been the surprise of the conference going 11-5 overall and 5-0 in Big West play. The Titans have covered nine out of their last 15 games this season. E.J. Anosike leads the Titans in scoring (18.2 points per game) and rebounding (7.8 rebounds per game).
Both teams play extremely physical down low, and Anosike should be the difference. Fullerton surrounds Anosike with talented guards Damari Milstead and Trey Maddux.
Elijah Pepper is the leading scorer for the Aggies and 5-foot-11 point guard Ezra Manjon breaks down defenses off the dribble. Fullerton is the hottest team in the conference right now and will find a way to get a road win here. Give me Fullerton has a slight road favorite.
The pick: Fullerton -1
Saint Mary’s @ USF
Spread: USF -2
Start time: 10:00 p.m. ET
The game of the night is in the WCC with Todd Golden’s San Francisco Dons taking on his former coach and the St. Mary’s Gaels.
USF is 2-9 against the Gaels since 2015 and Golden will work to approve on that. These two programs essentially mirror each other. Both use heavy analytics analysis that factor into game planning. They represent the new age of college basketball. They are both premier mid-major teams.
Expect USF big man Yauhen Massalski to give the Gaels some trouble. San Fran has the 16th most efficient two-point attack in the country and is more than capable at hammering the glass. I expect USF to lock up the Gaels guards on the perimeter.
Saint Mary’s plays inside and out wants to create open 3s for perimeter players. USF ranks 29th nationally in 3-point attempts allowed and ranks sixth overall in 3-point percentage.
The Dons are the better team and getting them at less than three presents a lot of value. Give me San Francisco in this spot.
The pick: USF -2
Loyola Marymount @ Gonzaga
Spread: Gonzaga -28 .5
Start time: 11:00 p.m. EST
TV/Stream: CBS Sports Network
We will keep this analysis short.
Gonzaga is still the No. 1 rated offensive team in the country. LMU just lost its best wing defender Dameane Douglas for the year. LMU doesn’t have a post presence to stop Drew Timme. LMU plays its offense out of the post with Eli Scott who will be challenged by 7-foot freshmen Chet Holmgren.
In addition, Loyola is near the bottom in transition defensive metrics — which is not ideal when facing Gonzaga. The Zags are on a roll and they win this game by at least 35.
The pick: Gonzaga -28.5