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Mid-Money Madness: January 3

Important clashes in the Mountain West and WCC highlight the slate

NCAA Basketball: Colorado State at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

The Mid-Money Madness article is back for another wild Thursday. We came through with a second consecutive winning week after going 4-2 last week.

That’s a pretty good run for us as we finally sit above .500 at 16-15 overall. Now, the pressure is on tonight to not mess that momentum up (fingers crossed). The rare primetime Pac-12 matchup between UCLA and Arizona highlights the entire slate. But, with postponements in Big Ten country, Thursday’s schedule will be dominated by mid-major action.

Wyoming will look to follow up an overtime home victory against Colorado State last time out. Now, Wyoming will arguably get a tougher test facing a Boise State team that is unbeaten in the conference and is rolling.

Is our four-bid WCC at risk? BYU is hosting USF in a game that seems to be a must win for both. We will discuss who has the edge there. We will talk about a rivalry game in the Big Sky and the Big West. We will discuss if UNC Wilmington can keep their streak going. 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.

UNC Wilmington @ Elon

Spread: UNCW -2

Total: 135

Tip off: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV/Streaming: Flo Sports

Last Thursday, I doubted the Seahawks and paid for it. UNC Wilmington took care of Northeastern as a four point favorite. They followed that up with beating Hofstra and Drexel at home.

With those wins, UNCW has won 12 in a row and sits comfortably atop of the CAA. I won’t make the mistake of doubting UNCW again. This team is for real.

After being picked to finish second to last in the conference, the Seahawks have emerged as one of the best stories in college basketball.

Both teams can struggle to score at times but Wilmington is elite at taking care of the basketball and turning over opponents while Elon ranks 266 in turnover percentage and 306 in offensive rebounding percentage. The Seahawks will be able to capitalize on having extra possessions. Jaylen Sims will be the most consistent scorer on the for UNCW. I think the win streak continues.

The pick: UNCW -2

Montana @ Weber State

Spread: Weber State -7

Total: 144

Tip off: 9:00 p.m. EST

TV/Streaming: ESPN +

This is one of the more underrated — or unknown — mid-major rivalries.

The two teams competed in a classic a few months back. In a back and forth game, Montana found a way to come out on top 74-72 after Lonnell Martin Jr. hit a jumper with three seconds left to give Montana a win.

Both teams have been in good form since then. Weber State (17-5, 10-1 Conference) is currently ranked first in the Big Sky Conference standings, while Montana (15-6, 8-2) is at third. Weber State has won seven straight, while Montana has been victorious in four consecutive.

I think we can take away a lot from the first matchup: Montana out assisted Weber State 16-6 and out shot the Wildcats 52.6% to 29.4% from 3-point range. This should be one of the better, closer games on Thursday’s slate, and I simply think seven points is too much to give Montana here.

The pick: Montana +7

Boise State @ Wyoming

Spread: Wyoming -1

Total: 132

Tip off: 9:00 p.m. EST

TV/Streaming: Stadium

The game I am most excited for on the slate.

Wyoming is coming off an emotional overtime win against rival Colorado State. Hunter Maldonado had career-high 35 points to beat the Rams. After the win against the Rams, Wyoming sits (17-3 overall) and (6-1) in the conference.

With a win, the Cowboys will not only move into first place, but they will also put themselves right in the middle of the bubble for a potential at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. Maldonado was unstoppable in the CSU game and was able to shut the door when Graham Ike fouled out.

Ike has been another player on a long list of Mountain West breakout performers. Ike is averaging 19.7 points and 8.9 rebounds a game. He is doing this while shooting 53% from the floor and 70% from the free-throw line. The dynamic duo will get a tough test against a Boise State defense that ranks fifth overall in defensive efficiency.

The Broncos have switchable wings with Abu Kigab and Emmanuel Akot. Mladen Armus was sturdy enough to keep Ike from completely dominating every post touch in the first matchup.

The Broncos won last time out 65-62 thanks to Abu Kigab’s 18 points. Boise State has been living on thin ice with the last five victories coming by six or less.

This game is really going to be really tight. I literally had to flip a coin and text a few friends to confirm what I was feeling but fate is on the Cowboys side. I’m betting on the Cowboys.

The pick: Wyoming -1


Spread: BYU -2

Total: 144

Tip off: 10:00pm EST

TV/Streaming: CBS Sports Network

This game I have a little more conviction towards.

BYU took a shotgun shell to their tournament resume last week. The Cougars lost a tough road game in the final seconds to Santa Clara. Which in retrospect, would have been OK. But, they followed that up with a 76-73 loss to Pacific. BYU is not in panic mode yet, but could use a win against a good USF team.

On the other side, USF needs this one as well. The Dons are 3-4 against top-50 teams and needs to capitalize on this Quad-1 opportunity here. While I kind of want to root for San Francisco, I just can’t trust them with my hard earned money on the road. USF had back to back second half meltdowns to this BYU team and then blew a 20-point lead against Saint Mary’s last week.

BYU ranks 17th nationally in 3-point percentage defense. If you can limit opportunities from distance for the Dons, they really struggle to score. BYU is always a tough place to play at. I trust Mark Pope has his team focused against San Francisco despite Gonzaga coming to town this upcoming Saturday. I’ll take BYU at home here.

The pick: BYU -2

UC Irvine @ UCSB

Spread: UCSB -1

Total: 128

Start time: 10:00 p.m. EST

TV/Streaming: ESPN +

The Mid-Money Madness column would not be complete without a Big West brews sweat. Both teams have been disappointing in their own regards. The Gauchos have lost four out of their last five, while UC Irvine is 3-3 in Big West play after being picked to win the conference.

I think this is a good time to back the Gauchos here. In all their of their conference losses they have had a 10-point lead at some point during the game. They are the bottom in the conference in terms of “luck” rating on KenPom, shot quality, and Haslam metrics. They have yet to play a home game since the new year started. This is a good spot for them to get back on track. I’ll test my luck with the Gauchos at home.

The pick: UCSB -1