Welcome to the March edition of Mid-Money Madness. We skipped the last couple of Thursdays, but we had to make our return with champ week upon us.
I’ll admit the column has not been great, going just 19-24 this year. But, in the sport of college basketball, all that matters is what can you do in March. We are hoping to deliver today.
We will cover some conference tournament matchups in the Horizon League, ASUN and a late Big West matchup on ESPNU. I am not a professional handicapper as always, here to remind you. If you fade or tail, we encourage you to wager responsibly.
Let’s enjoy another fun night of college hoops. Here is where we are going with our handicapping investments:
Horizon League Tournament:
Detroit Mercy vs. Northern Kentucky
Spread: Northern Kentucky -3
Tip-off: 7 p.m. EST
TV: ESPN +
Detroit’s Antoine Davis is worth the ESPN + subscription. The star guard is averaging 24.2 points while shooting 38% from 3-point land. NKU defense plays a zone, which isn’t ideal against a dynamic shooter. Per Shot Quality, NKU surrenders the second-highest scoring rate in the conference from shots surrendered behind the arch. Detroit ranks third in the conference on the offensive side of the ball. Guard play is so key in neutral sight conference tournament matchups. Detroit has a significant advantage here. Northern Kentucky’s point guard Bryson Langdon has had some turnover issues, and I will take the best player in the conference catching points here.
The pick: Detroit Mercy +3
Oakland @ Wright State
Spread: Wright State -4
Tip-off 7 p.m. EST
TV: ESPN +
Another Horizon League quarterfinal matchup. Oakland didn’t have to break a sweat against a shorthanded IUPUI. Jalen Moore and Jamal Cain are some of the conference’s best pick and roll tandems. They will be facing the Wright State team that doesn’t do well in pick and roll coverage. The Raiders rank 242nd in two-point defense. Oakland loves to play downhill. Oakland doesn’t defend the rim well off post-ups and drives. That is where Wright State feasts- down low with Grant Basile and Tanner Holden. Oakland ranks in the bottom 300 in two points defense and proximity shot quality. Both teams should be able to create easy shots for themselves down the stretch. Oakland should have a faster pace than it did in the first-round matchup. I think the over is a safe bet in this one.
The pick: Over 145
Florida Gulf Coast @ Bellarmine
Spread: Bellarmine -3
Tip-off 7 p.m. EST
The Golden Eagles travel to Freedom Hall in Kentucky for a big quarterfinal matchup. Bellarmine is not eligible to go the NCAA Tourney even if they win the ASUN tournament due to the transitional period the NCAA makes new D-1 programs go through. So the line is quite fishy. Bellarmine swiped through the FGCU defense scoring 1.14 points per possession in a 74-63 road win. Since then, Bellarmine hasn’t covered a game going 0-5 ATS and 3-6 in their last nine home games. Bellarmine’s defense has been porous all year, ranking 314th in defensive efficiency. How Bellarmine can limit Florida Gulf Coast’s transition opportunities will determine the game. FGCU has a top-40 offense, and if it can hit its shots, it should win easily. I’ll take the Eagles on the road.
The pick: FGCU +3
UC Riverside @ CSU Fullerton
Spread: Fullerton -2
Tip-off: 11 p.m. EST
It’s time for late-night Big West brews. We have some action for those who prefer not to go to sleep at a decent hour. Fullerton has a chance to clinch at least a share of the conference regular-season title with a win. At the same time, UCR is vying for a top-4 seed in the conference. I think the Highlanders play spoiler here. They won by double digits in the last matchup. They have the bigs to dominate the rebounding battle and can defend inside. The Titans play their offense through forwarding EJ Anosike, and Highlander center Callum McCrea will give him fits down low. Fullerton struggles to defend the 3-point arc. While UC Riverside is not efficient at shooting the long ball, they still rank in the top 125 in 3-point attempts. This is a good opportunity for the Highlanders to establish momentum heading into the Big West tournament. They get the W in this spot.
The pick: UCR +2