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Friday's Mid-Money Madness: A guide to betting on mid-major games

We take you to a pair of games in each of the MAC and Mountain West as well as a tilt in the Atlantic 10

NCAA Basketball: MAC Tournament - Kent St. vs Akron
Xavier Castaneda is leading Akron with 20.9 points per game.
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The last time I put out this column, the faders one. We put up a goose-egg going 0-4.

It certainly wasn’t pretty, but just like Kobe said, “I would go 0-30 before I would go 0-9. 0-9 means you beat yourself.”

We are going to keep chucking away here.

We do have some awesome games on the slate.

We have Eastern Michigan against Ball State, and MAC powers battling it out with Kent State and Akron.

We have a great matchup in the A-10 with Saint Louis and VCU. We cap it off in the Mountain West with a showdown between Boise and San Diego State.

We also see if Nevada can continue their hot streak after beating San Diego State.

All our lines our presented at SB Nation’s sponsor Draftkings Sportsbook.

As I mentioned before, I’m far from a professional. Whether you fade or tail, we encourage you to wager responsibly.

Eastern Michigan @ Ball State

Spread: Eastern Michigan +10.5

Total: 151.5

The Eagles have all the talent. Over the last two games they are starting to finally show it. They are coming off a 90-69 win against Ohio at home. They beat Miami of Ohio on the road and nearly upset Toledo as a 20-point underdog last week. The Eagles forced 31 turnovers in their past two games. It seems like they are finally buying in on the defensive end.

The Ball State Cardinals are not playing particularly impressive basketball right now. They have split their last four games, and they got crushed by a not-very-good Buffalo team. The Cardinals sit in the top four in the MAC standings, and they are 8-1 at home this season.

They shoot the ball well from three and rank 26th nationally in 3-point field goal percentage. But they are in the bottom 300 nationally defending the three ball on the other side of the court.

Eastern Michigan isn’t good. But they do have shooters, and they are far worse defending the paint than they are defending the perimeter. Going to plug my nose here and ride the Eagles’ hot streak. Give me Eastern Michigan plus the points.

The pick: Eastern Michigan +10.5

VCU @ Saint Louis

Spread: Saint Louis -3

Total: 139.5

First place in the regular season is on the line in the A-10. The entire league has been plagued with inconsistency. It’s impossible to predict, and I’m a total madman trying to figure out the winner of this game.

Both teams have had catastrophic losses in the recent days. VCU gave St. Bonaventure its first conference road win of the season. The Rams’ defense held the Bonnies to just 18 first half points, and the Bonnies’ leading scorer didn’t have a field goal. Yet, VCU found away to lose that game at home due to its inconsistenticies on the offensive end.

Saint Louis had its share of troubles this week dropping a 10-point loss to Fordham on Tuesday. To be fair, losing to Fordham by 10 doesn’t look as bad as you think. Fordham continues to exceed expectations. The Billikens won six straight before that.

If you remember in the preseason, Saint Louis was supposed to be one of the best mid-major teams in college basketball. At times this season, they have lived up to that with wins against Providence and Memphis. But they have showed their bottom with their recent loss against Fordham as well as a loss against SIU Edwardsville at home.

This is a big game where they can show why they are the class of the A-10 this season. I like the matchup here. The Billikens have point guard Yuri Collins, who creates for others and takes care of the basketball. Javonte Perkins can score in isolation. SLU’s home crowd will make things insufferable for an already struggling VCU offense. I’ll take Saint Louis here to win comfortably. It’s the A-10 after all, so let’s see what happens.

The Pick: Saint Louis -3

Kent State @ Akron

Spread: Kent State -1

Total: 133

This is my favorite game of the entire slate. You got the MAC’s two top teams and arguably two of the hottest teams in all of college basketball. Akron has won seven straight, and the Golden Flashers have won 12 out of their last 13. The Zips have taken four out of the last six in this heated rivalry matchup.

You also have a matchup between two of the best guards in the mid-major ranks. The Sincere Carry and Xavier Castaneda is going to be electric. Carry is averaging 17.1 points and five assists per game, while Castaneda is averaging 20.9 points and 4.5 rebounds a night. Both guards can put the ball in the bucket.

As far as the matchup goes, I like Kent State here. I know they have struggled recently on the road. Remember, this is the same Kent State team that nearly beat Houston in Houston and led in the second half at the Kennel before ultimately falling to Gonzaga by seven. There is some revenge aspirations here too as Akron ended Kent State’s season in the MAC tournament last year.

Kent State is the best defensive team Akron has faced in its seven-game winning streak. The Flashers rank 37th in defensive efficiency and are great on the ball. They are going to have to battle on the boards with Enrique Freeman. If they stay competitive in the rebounding battle, I think they get it done here.

The Pick: Kent State -1

Boise State @ San Diego State

Spread: San Diego State -5.5

Total 134.5

This is probably the big of the slate. Boise State can get a huge Quad 1 win on the road. San Diego State is trying to bounce back from a road defeat at Nevada. Boise State point guard Marcus Shaver Jr. and forward Naje Smith are questionable to play. The Aztecs entered the top 25 going into the week, and they should be motivated to bounce back. Boise State is coming into this game winning three straight. So, who has the edge?

I typically favor the team coming back home off a loss. The Broncos beat San Diego State in Viejas last season, in what was a 42-37 slugfest. I don’t see that happening here.

Matt Bradley should bounce back. Darion Trammell needs to get going. The Aztecs guard is 4-for-27 from three in his last six games. I see a positive swing coming pretty soon. It’s not going to be easy against a Broncos’ 3-point defense that ranks 4th nationally.

I just don’t see how Boise is going to score without Shaver being 100% against an Aztecs team that is 36th in defensive efficiency. The home crowd at the Viejas Arena is something to account for. I’ll take the Aztecs because they are in a good spot, but I don't feel overly great about it.

The pick: Aztecs -5.5

Air Force @ Nevada

Spread: Nevada -11.5

Total 134.4

Nevada is coming off its biggest win in the Steve Alford era. Now, the Wolf Pack welcome in Air Force on a late Friday night. This screams trap game to me. Air Force has dropped four straight with three of those contests by double digits. The Falcons play methodical and slow. They rank top-10 nationally in 3-point defense. It’s important to defend the three point line against Nevada. I think Nevada comes out slow, and Air Force makes this game a little uncomfortable. Back the Falcons here.

The pick: Air Force +11