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Mid-Money Madness: Jan. 17

Is Houston on upset alert? Plus, big showdowns in the Mountain West, Atlantic 10 and MAC

NCAA Basketball: Empire Classic-Temple at Richmond
Tyler Burton is scoring 19.4 points per game, tied for the second most in the Atlantic 10. He is also pulling down 7.8 rebounds per contest, which is tied for fourth in the conference.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to 2023. We are in the midst of conference play and we have a stacked slate for Mid-Major Basketball. Nick Lorensen has made us look pretty good so, let’s continue that trend. We got games in the MAC, A-10, Mountain West and a potential upset alert in the American.

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

Without further to do, let’s get down to business.

Houston @ Tulane

Spread: Tulane +11

Total: 146

Houston is the No. 1 ranked team in the country but I feel there is vulnerability in their armor. They dominated the bottom teams in the country but the middle tier has played the Cougars tough.

UCF stayed within two possessions and had a lead against the Cougars in their own building. Houston trailed South Florida by five with 13:59 to go in the second half. The Bulls shot nearly 50% from the field and had 27 free throw attempts.

Tulane is a team that is in the upper tier of the conference. Jalen Cook is a star on-ball scorer who is averaging 18 points per game.

Against Houston, you have to score before the its defense is set. The Green Wave is capable of doing that. They are 6th in the nation in pace.

Ron Hunter has turned the Tulane program around. The Green Wave has won six straight, and its needs this win to get them closer to the bubble conversation.

When playing on the road, Houston’s physical play is likely to result in more fouls. Tulane is the second best free throw shooting team in the country. I think it is very likely Tulane hangs around and there might be a Green court storming Tuesday.

The pick: Tulane +11

Kent State @ Eastern Michigan

Spread: Eastern Michigan +14

Total 148

In case you missed it, Kent State has soared in our Other Top 25 rankings. The Golden Flashers have won seven in a row, and their only losses this season have come against Charleston, Gonzaga and Houston. That’s pretty good.

Eastern Michigan has been horrid despite having the highest-ranked NBA draft prospect in the conference. The Eagles rank 350th in defensive efficiency, and they are dead last in two point defense.

Kent State should be able to get whatever they want inside. I don’t see a scenario where Kent State doesn’t put up 80.

On the other side, Eastern Michigan is going to try to outrun them. It ranks 32nd in the nation in overall pace. They are going to try to match them shot for shot. Eastern Michigan does have some guys who can score.

It’s against my nature to take a 14-point favorite on the road. So, I’m going to take the over, betting the Eagles do just enough to bring us over the total.

The pick: Over 148

Rhode Island @ Richmond

Spread: Richmond -8

Total: 135

Things haven’t gone well in Archie Miller’s first year in Rhode Island. The Rams rank 348th in effective field goal percentage and are 242nd in offensive efficiency. They also turn the ball over 14 times per game. Now they go on the road to face the third best defensive team in the A-10.

Richmond has won five out of its last seven games. Tyler Burton has been arguably the best player in the conference. Burton is second in the conference in scoring at 19.2 points per game and fourth in the conference in rebounding at 7.8 per game.

After a rough start in non-conference play, Richmond is finding its groove. The Spiders are an undervalued team in the market. Rhode Island is simply a bad basketball team. They have a small rebounding advantage. Richmond does a good job cleaning up the defensive boards when 7-foot center Neal Quinn. Take the Spiders to win big here.

The pick: Richmond -8

Nevada @ Boise State

Spread: Nevada +5.5

Total: 134.5

I want to start this preview off to acknowledge the true crime that this game is not on national television. How does FS1 or CBS Sports Network pick this game up?

The last matchup between these two teams back on Dec. 28 was epic. Kenan Blackshear drove and finished in the paint with three seconds left to secure a Wolf Pack victory. There were four lead changes in the final minute.

Boise State may be one of the best defensive units in basketball. Recently, the Broncos have shown their potency on the offensive side as well. They have done it in diverse ways- by shooting 53% from three in their runaway road win against UNLV last Tuesday.

They followed that up with a dominant win against Wyoming. The Broncos have won 11 out of their last 13 D-I games with their only losses coming against Santa Clara and Nevada.

While Boise State has been great, Nevada has been stellar too. The Wolf Pack have won seven of eight. They are pretty balanced, ranking in the top 60 nationally in offensive and defensive efficiency. They are tough, versatile, and experienced. They have four guys who are reliable scorers. This Nevada team doesn’t turn the ball over.

While Boise has been sensational, I do think Nevada keeps this one close. Blackshear and Jarod Lucas will be able to create enough offense for Nevada, and Boise State’s shooting is due to come back down to Earth. Give me the Wolf Pack with the points.

The pick: Nevada +5.5