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Mid-Money Madness: Conference play commences

Walking through the first true night of conference play, we highlight a few games that could be worthy plays

Legends of Basketball Showcase - Northern Iowa v Towson
Ben Jacobson and Northern Iowa recently picked wins over Saint Bonaventure and Towson.
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Happy Holidays! After a long day without college hoops, we’re finally back in the thick of it with conference play!

Reeling in 2022, I have a few picks that will get you some extra cash for New Year’s Eve. Let’s hope it’s better than our 4-3 record on opening night.

As always, here to remind you that I am not a professional handicapper. Whether you fade or tail, we encourage you to wager responsibly.

If you like what I’ve given you, feel free to follow my action account (@nick_lorensen). On the season, I have a 133-109-9 record.

Davidson vs. Fordham

DraftKings Line: Even

Total: 142

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

Watch: CBS Sports Network

After a 12-1 start to its season, Fordham will have its first real litmus test of the campaign against Davidson. Last season, although with different coaches, the Wildcats won all three matchups by a difference of three, 18 and 21.

The research between the two begins in the strength of schedule. Davidson sits at 179th in non-conference SOS on KenPom, beating South Carolina and San Francisco. They also battled into the final minutes of games against Charlotte, Delaware and Purdue. On the other hand, Fordham had the easiest non-conference schedule in all of college basketball, with its highest-ranked home win being against 277th-ranked Wagner.

Polar opposites.

Fordham also has a turnover problem, turning the ball over on 21.1% of their possessions. That’s not going to sit well against a fundamentally sound basketball team like Davidson, who ranks in the Top 55 of the country in that same mark on their offensive end.

The Pick: Davidson pk

Missouri State vs. Northern Iowa

DraftKings Line: Northern Iowa -2

Total: 129.5

When: 8:00 p.m. ET

Watch: ESPN3

Northern Iowa is hitting its stride at the right time, and it’s ready to make some noise in the Valley.

Coming off double-digit wins against top-165 programs in Saint Bonaventure and Towson, the Panthers will face another in 128th-ranked Missouri State.

The Bears though have struggled against top-170 programs, reeling in a 1-7 record. A lot of that can be accounted for with their bottom three free throw percentage in the country.

Northern Iowa on the other hand has a resurging defense, holding its opponents to under 70 points in three of the last four.

The Pick: Northern Iowa -2

Wyoming vs. Fresno State

DraftKings Line: Fresno State -1

Total: 127.5

When: 11:00 p.m. ET

Where: CBS Sports Network

Both these teams had tough non-conference slates, so it’s time to start fresh with league play. Once again, we’ll be looking at those schedules.

Wyoming has had its injury problems but has been competitive against teams outside of the Top 164. They sit at a 5-1 record. Fresno State, on the other hand, is a yucky 3-2 with two DI wins by single digits and the non-DI win on the slate being by 13.

They’ve both hit tough times losing their big men, but no one can really replace Orlando Robinson for Fresno State. Wyoming on the other hand has been able to supplement Graham Ike a little bit, as he should be able to come back soon.

The offense for Fresno State has been one of the most disappointing in the country while Wyoming has been one of the most surprising.

It will be interesting to see if Wyoming can exploit Fresno’s last-ranked average possession length on defense.

The Pick: Wyoming +1