Last night, we saw four of the most prominent programs in the country square off in the Champions Classic. Following those two exciting games, we are met with no ranked matchups for tonight’s slate, so we can fully turn our attention to mid-majors. They may not have the appeal of a Kansas vs. Kentucky, but there is still money to be made on these games, and in this edition of Mid-Major Money, I’ve got three matchups and picks we’ll take a look at.
In this Missouri Valley Conference vs. Ohio Valley Conference matchup, the 2-0 Evansville Purple Aces will take on the 0-2 SEMO Redhawks. Despite the record disparity, the Redhawks are currently (-2.5) point favorites. Evansville might be 2-0, but they have only played one division one opponent and rank 324th in non-conference strength of schedule rating on KenPom. Meanwhile, SEMO is 39th in that same category, as they’ve already matched up with Butler and Grand Canyon.
The Purple Aces have been paced in scoring by freshman Ben Humrichous, who is averaging 14.5 points per game, but as a team, Evansville is still 329th in adjusted offensive rating on KenPom. Despite their poor offensive rating, the Purple Aces have used their weak schedule to get their offensive stats off on the right foot, as they are 58th in the country in true shooting percentage and 16th in total rebounding percentage.
According to Shot Quality, the Purple Aces are due for some negative regression as their season goes on, and it could certainly start tonight against a SEMO team that beat them 67-61 last season. The Redhawks have not had the benefit of a weak schedule to start their season, which has led to some poor overall numbers (323rd in effective field goal percentage).
SEMO is 33rd in average defensive rating of opponents per KenPom, so it would make sense as to why they rank near the bottom of the country in a lot of offensive categories. The good news for the Redhawks is they are ranked 67th in three-point percentage, and they’ll match up with an Evansville team that let their lone D1 opponent shoot 50% from three. With the Redhawks finally playing competition that is more at their level, I think they can improve offensively and pick up their first win and cover of the season.
Pick: SEMO (-2.5)
There is nothing like a Wednesday night battle for Delaware, with the 3-0 Blue Hens on the road to take on the 0-2 Hornets. Despite losing their leading scorer from last season to the transfer portal, the Blue Hens have gotten off to a strong start this season, largely thanks to Jyare Davis and his 21 points per game. Behind Davis, the Blue Hens are 63rd in effective field goal percentage and 53rd in three-point percentage.
When these two teams met last season, and the Blue Hens came away with a 77-69 win, Davis had 11 points while current Hornets leading scorer Jevin Muniz had eight. Muniz and the Hornets have played two power-five opponents through their first two games, which has led to them averaging just 52 points per game.
Offense was something the Hornets struggled with last season, ending the year ranked 355th in offensive rating. While you can’t fully judge them after two games against solid opponents, with no significant roster upgrades, it’s safe to assume the Hornets' offense won’t improve much this season. With their lack of scoring depth, the Hornets will have their work cut out for them again tonight against a Blue Hens team that has held their two D1 opponents to 57 points and 30 rebounds per game.
Pick: Delaware Blue Hens (-9.5)(-105) on FanDuel
If you enjoy offense, then I suggest tuning into more Cornell Big Red games. Through three games, two against D1 opponents, the Big Red are 3-0 and averaging 89.6 points per game. According to Shot Quality, the Big Red has the 4th highest rim and three rate, which is the percentage of possessions that end in a three or shot at the rim. With that, Cornell has six players averaging double figures and ranks 78th in offensive rating on KenPom.
Tonight, the Big Red will face their toughest test in terms of defense, as they are set to play a George Mason team that is 67th in defensive rating on KenPom. The Patriots have started the year 2-0 while holding opponents to 53 points per game and a 36.3% effective field goal percentage.
The Patriots have some strong offensive players like Amari Kelly (15.5 PPG), but they are shooting 43.1% as a team. With a below-average shooting percentage, the Patriots have relied more on slowing the game down and letting their defense create offense. When I say slow the game down, I mean the Patriots are 322nd in the country in adjusted tempo on KenPom, with an average of just 67.5 possessions per 40 minutes.
Pick: Under 151 (-110) on DraftKings
Cornell vs George Mason Under 151 (-110)