Nick took care of us last week, and now I’m back to bring you this week’s edition of Mid-Money Madness. While most college basketball fans will be tuning into the Champions Classic, we have a very underrated college basketball slate. We are previewing games from coast to coast: New Hampshire @ Fordham, Eastern Michigan @ Bradley, Memphis @ Saint Louis, and two Mountain West late night tips involving San Diego State and UNLV.
While we barely made it over the .500 mark last year, we are not professional handicappers. As always, whether you fade or tail please wager responsibly at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Without further ado, here are the games I am looking at.
New Hampshire @ Fordham
Spread: New Hampshire +9
I really like what I’ve seen from New Hampshire so far this season. The Wildcats are coming off a 83-71 win against Fairfield. New Hampshire has 10 new players on their roster, and they are led by Seattle transfer Kyree Brown, who is averaging 22.4 points per game. The Wildcats also added Juco All-American Clarence Brown, who scored 15 in their win against Fairfield. The Wildcats are small but are extremely efficient on the offensive end ranking fourth in the nation in 3-point percentage so far.
On the other side there are a lot of unknowns for Fordham. Just when the program had hope of climbing out of the A-10 cellar, head coach Kyle Neptune fled to be the head coach at Villanova. They return two starters off an offense that ranked 321st in offensive efficiency and ranked 13th in the A-10 in offensive turnover rate. The Rams don’t have a big to exploit New Hampshire’s lack of size. They rank 348th in the nation in offensive turnover rate after two games. A team like that shouldn’t be laying nearly double digits. New Hampshire is undervalued in this spot. Give me the Wildcats to keep it close and potentially spur an upset.
The Pick: New Hampshire +9
Buffalo @ UConn
Spread: UConn -20
Buffalo is experiencing a major rebuild this season. The Bulls lost their four best players to graduation in Jeenathan Williams (19.1 ppg, 5 rpg, 2.9 apg) Josh Mballa (13 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.1 apg) Ronaldo Segu (14.9 ppg, 3 rpg, 5.1 apg) and Maceo Jack (9.5 ppg). They return one player that averaged over 20 minutes a game. The roster is a combination of inexperienced transfers and new underclassmen. Coach Jim Whitesell isn’t changing the way his team plays basketball. The Bulls still lead the nation in pace of play. But playing with an inexperienced group has caused a series of natural mistakes. The Bulls rank in the bottom 300 in offensive turnover rate and overall defensive efficiency. Buffalo lost their big rim protector in Mballa, and now 6-foot-11-inch freshmen Issac Jack has to fill that role. He is going to get a big time introduction to big time college basketball guarding Big East Preseason Player of the Year Adama Sanogo. The Huskies lost guards R.J. Cole and Tyrese Martin. But added transfers Tristen Newton, who averaged 17 points per game at ECU, and Nahiem Alleyne, who shot 40% from three at Virginia Tech. UConn wing Andre Jackson is an athletic freak who can force turnovers and is showtime dunk waiting to happen when is dribbling in transition. The learning pains continue for the Bulls here. Take UConn to cover.
The Pick: UConn -20
Eastern Michigan @ Bradley
Spread: Eastern Michigan +6
The number is going to sink down as time winds down to tipoff. This is probably the most public play of the day. Eastern Michigan went down to the wire with Michigan Friday night dropping a close 88-83 contest. Emoni Bates looked the like the NBA superstar Sports Illustrated prophesized Bates would be when he was 14.
Bradley looked flat against Utah State losing 84-62. Bradley was picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley Preseason poll. The preseason line for this game opened at 12. So a professional may say fade Eastern Michigan at its highest point while also backing Bradley at its low point. I just don’t see how you can do that. Bradley is still missing first team all-conference center Rienk Mast to injury. Bradley still has a solid trio of guards with Ja’Shon Henry, Duke Deen and Connor Hickman. I still give the athletic edge to Eastern Michigan. Getting points, I think the Eagles are the way to go here. Bates looks locked and they have the talent around him to put up a lot of points. I’ll ride Eastern Michigan here.
The pick: Eastern Michigan +7 or better
Memphis @ Saint Louis
Spread: Saint Louis -3
This is arguably the best “high mid-major” game of the day. Both of these teams expect to be dancing in March. Memphis is playing their second big road test in November. The Tigers beat in-state foe Vanderbilt 76-67. Memphis got one of the biggest gems in the transfer portal bringing in two-time American Conference Player of the Year Kendric Davis. Memphis also returns DeAndre Williams and Alex Lomax.
Saint Louis returns their entire core from last season and brings back star Javonte Perkins, who missed all of last season with injury. Saint Louis comfortably rolled in two straight home wins against much inferior opponents — Murray State and Evansville. If you are looking for a complete team, the Billikens have it all. They have floor general point guard in Yuri Collins, a go-to scorer in Perkins, an world class shooter in Gibson Jimerson, and an inside defensive stopper/rebounder with Francis Okoro. Did I forget to say Saint Louis added Missouri starting guard/wing Javon Pickett?
Saint Louis is an undervalued team in this spot, and the line suggest Saint Louis and Memphis are even at this point. While Memphis’ young guys may grow and have upside later in the year, that is not the case in November. The Billikens have the better and experienced roster right now. Take the better team at home. Riding with the Billikens here.
The Pick: Saint Louis -3
San Diego State @ Stanford
Spread: San Diego State -5
I don’t recommend taking road favorites in college basketball. However, here is the exception. The Aztecs are going to be a tank this season. This will be Brian Dutcher’s best team since the 2019-2020 season, and this team has the same type of upside. They added dynamic transfer in Darrion Trammell, who averaged nearly 20 points per game in two seasons at Seattle. Additionally, Trammell ranked in the top-30 overall in steal percentage, per Ken Pom, and he fits right in the Aztecs defensive profile.
Stanford has struggled with turnovers the last few seasons. They don’t really have a point guard and rely on athletic forwards to get baskets. Stanford ranks near the bottom nationally in turnover percentage in its two-game sample size. The Aztecs forced 18 turnovers in their opener against Cal State Fullerton and then followed it up forcing 20 turnovers against BYU. I think they have a chance to do something similar in Maples Pavilion tomorrow night. The Aztecs defense has been elite with 87.7 points per 100 possessions through two games this season. They have 7-foot senior big Nathan Mensah to combat Stanford’s size. A win here would like big for the Aztecs come Selection Sunday. This team comes out and makes a big statement. Take the Aztecs to win big here.
The pick: Aztecs -5 or better
#21 Dayton @ UNLV
Spread: UNLV +4.5
The 21st-ranked Flyers travel to Sin City to face the Runnin’ Rebels at Thomas & Mack Center. Dayton is coming off a home victory against SMU in a game that was much closer than the 74-62 final score indicated. Dayton ranks fourth in our Other Top 25 Poll. They bring back a solid core group of rising sophomores and freshman who nearly made the NCAA tournament last season. The Flyers are lead by 6-foor-10-inch forward Daron Holmes II, who averaged nearly 13 points per game last season. The Flyers have an athletic group returning besides him headlined by guard Malachi Smith, forward RJ Blakney and forward Toumani Camara.
UNLV is looking to build upon a solid foundation set by Kevin Kruger in his first season. Sophomore Keshon Gilbert has led the Rebels in scoring over their first two games averaging 18. After losing Bryce Hamilton and Donavon Williams to the NBA, Kruger brought reinforcements via the transfer portal. The Rebels added five power-conference transfers in the offseason and four of whom were starters at one point. Oklahoma transfer EJ Harkless headlines the group. Harkless averaged 10 points per game with Oklahoma last season and is an elite perimeter defender. The Rebels added Ole Miss starter Luis Rodriguez and former All-PAC 12 defender Elijah Parquet.
The Rebels were a good home team last season going 12-4. So while Dayton is probably the more proven team and better team long term. I like UNLV in this particular spot. The Rebels won’t turn it over at the rate SMU did in the second half. They have a lot of versatile defenders to give Dayton’s play makers some trouble. I’ll take the Rebels to pull off the upset.
The Pick: UNLV +4.5