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Mid-Money Madness: February 17

USF or Saint Mary’s can secure at-large status with a key matchup

NCAA Basketball: San Francisco at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Mid-Money Madness returns for another wild mid-major filled slate. The column’s record stands at 18-19, but we are going to get over .500 today.

I actually love the board. We have 59 mid-major basketball games on the slate with several in primetime matchups. We will breakdown one of the American games on ESPN2 and of course the nightcap between USF and Saint Mary’s in the WCC.

As always, here to remind you I am not a professional handicapper. If you fade or tail, we encourage you to wager responsibly. Let’s enjoy another fun night of college hoops.

All lines provided by SB Nation’s sportsbook partner Draftkings Sportsbook.

Wichita State @ Cincinnati

Spread: Cincinnati -3

Total: 136.5

Tip off: 7 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN2

Both Wichita and Cincinnati have shown inconsistencies, and cause of that, I think this game turns into a rock fight.

Both defenses rank in the top 50 in defensive efficiency per KenPom.com. I think Wichita State will struggle to score because its guards will not be able to penetrate the lane. Cincinnati is allowing teams to shoot just 42.9% from the two-point range. Bearcats guard David Dejulius will make things hard for Tyson Etienne; on the wing and Jeremiah Davenport is a good match for Dexter Dennis.

Offensively, Cincy struggles to shoot at 277th nationally in effective field goal percentage.

This game has all the makings of a low scoring affair, so we will take the under here.

The pick: Under 136.5

North Texas @ Florida Atlantic

Spread: FAU +2.5

Total: 122.5

Tip off 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN +

Before I begin the breakdown, I’ll acknowledge some of the animosity between the Mean Green faithful towards this website.

We have not ranked the Mean Green in our Other Top 25 until this week, despite UNT’s nine game win streak. As a voter, I’m partially responsible for that. I like this North Texas team. Over the last few weeks, North Texas has risen to the top of Conference USA rankings, winning 14 out of its last 15 Division-I games.

During their nine-game win streak, the Mean Green have yet to allow an opponent to score over 65. Sorry Mean Green fans, I’m here to tell you that your nine-game win streak will not stretch to 10. North Texas has a huge road game against UAB on Saturday and FAU has had about a week to prepare for this one.

The circumstances make tonight’s contest a perfect sandwich spot to back the Owls. FAU has quietly been money at home, going 10-3 ATS in the FAU Arena. I’m a little worried North Texas’s defense is built to stop FAU’s four-out, run-and-gun offense. North Texas ranks 11th nationally in 3-point defense, and FAU ranks 75th nationally in 3-point attempts.

If North Texas wins in a route, please feel free to hammer my mentions UNT fans.

The pick: FAU +2.5

Colorado State @ New Mexico

Spread: New Mexico +7.5

Total: 151.5

Tip off 9:00 p.m. EST

TV: FS1

New Mexico is coming off a major upset beating No. 22 Wyoming 75-66.

Richard Pitino has brought some of the Pit Magic. Another win here could put another Mountain West team’s at-large bid in peril. New Mexico already took Colorado State down to the wire in Fort Collins as a double-digit underdog.

Will Colorado State have to sweat another game against a pesky Lobos team here? I expect this game to be a high scoring affair. New Mexico struggles to defend, they rank 236th in defensive efficiency and 283rd in two point defense. New Mexico has young bigs who are still growing and developing. Although they have some athleticism, they are no match for the experienced David Roddy inside — who is also a dynamite from the perimeter.

The Pit will be rocking, New Mexico will put up a fight but they won’t be able to orchestrate enough stops against the best offense in the conference.

So we will take the over.

The pick: Over 151.5

UTEP @ Louisiana Tech

Spread: Louisiana Tech -9

Total: 141.5

Tip off: 7:30 p.m. EST

UTEP has struggled against post scoring big men all year, now the Miners have to play one of the best bigs in the conference — forward Kenneth Lofton Jr.

Lofton Jr averages 17.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per contest. I like what UTEP head coach Joe Golding has been able to do in his first year but his team struggles against bigs because they tend to play overaggressive.

The Bulldogs won by 12 at UTEP a few months ago. I see this game going the same way. We will take the Bulldogs in the first half in this one.

The pick: Louisiana Tech -4 (First Half)

San Diego @ Portland

Spread: Portland -2

Total: 136.5

Tip off: 10:00 p.m. EST

TV/Streaming: Stadium/WCC Network

We travel to the late part of the board in WCC country.

The Pilots have been one of the more interesting stories in college basketball. They were unanimously picked to finish last in the conference but over the past few weeks they have taken Saint Mary’s to the final buzzer and split games with San Francisco.

You can make an argument Portland has exceeded expectations more than anyone in the conference. If Portland finishes above .500 in the conference, does Shantay Legans deserve to win coach of the year? I think it’s a discussion worth having, and Portland can get to .500 in the conference by beating San Diego tonight.

The line is off, and the books have not adjusted to the improvement of this Pilots team. Portland lost to San Diego in OT last month in a game the Pilots lead 25-8 after the 11:00 minute mark in the first half. This Portland team has been battle tested and I think they win this one easily.

The pick: Portland -2

USF @ Saint Mary’s

Spread: SMC -2.5

Total: 132

Tip off: 10:00 p.m. EST

TV/Streaming: Stadium/ WCC Network

The last time I broke this game down, we were on the wrong side of a 19-point Gaels comeback.

The winner of the rematch may as well punch their at large ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Going back, I still don't really know how USF lost that game. I still like USF here. The Dons rank in the top 10 in 3-point defense while Saint Mary’s ranks in the bottom 200 in 3-point defense. That is an important stat in a matchup of two programs that like to shoot the long ball.

Last time out, Matthias Tass won the interior matchup against Yauhen Massalski. If the Dons can be competitive on the boards I think they win here. SMC is prone to go on stretches without scoring. USF takes advantage of one those runs and hopefully they don't blow the lead this time.

The pick: USF +2.5