Welcome back to Mid-Major Money, your guide to betting on under-the-radar mid-major basketball games. This is the first edition since November 28th, but up to this point, mid-major money picks are 6-6 on the season. We’ll look to turn that into a positive record by the end of the night with three more picks for tonight’s action.
Eastern Washington sits atop the Big Sky with a 6-0 conference record, and they are currently amid an eight-game win streak. Until their most recent win over Montana, the Eagles had not scored below 70 points in their first five conference games.
Their 37th-ranked effective field goal percentage has made the offense a difficult one to stop, and their opponent tonight, the Northern Colorado Bears, is ranked 323rd in defensive efficiency rating this season. The Bears have only managed to come away with one conference win so far this season, and a big reason for that is their inability to get stops on the defensive end.
Northern Colorado allows an average of 79.5 points per game this season, and opponents have managed a shooting percentage of 48.3% against them, ranked 341st in college basketball. Eastern Washington's leading scorer Steele Venters should have no problem getting the shots he wants on the offensive end against the Bears, especially since Venters is shooting 49.2% from the field over his last ten games.
Eastern Washington is not a lockdown defensive team this season, but they have been able to do enough on that end of the floor to let them win and cover in shootouts. The Eagles' defensive efficiency rating is 196th in the country, according to KenPom, but they managed to go 8-1 ATS in their last nine games. Northern Colorado will not be able to get enough stops tonight to keep this within a three-point game.
For our second bet, we’ll head to the Ohio Valley Conference, where the fourth-place Tennesse Martin Skyhawks will take on the second-place SEMO Redhawks. The Redhawks run at the 20th-highest tempo in the country, according to KenPom, but their offensive efficiency rating is ranked 220th in the country.
Both teams have played in some high-scoring games recently, but ultimately I think the total is a bit too high. The team's shooting percentages show they are both due for some regression, especially SEMO, who has two straight outlier shooting games. The Redhawks' 43.3% shooting percentage ranks 204th in the country, and I don’t believe they can continue to shoot almost 15% higher than that consistently as they have been.
The last time these two teams met, UT-Martin was able to shoot 50% from the field, but they have come back down to Earth scoring-wise as they are fresh off a 66-point outing in which they shot 35% from the field and 12% from three.
For our last bet, we’ll head back to the Big Sky, where Idaho State is 11-5 to the over this season, and they will now host a second-place Sacramento State team with the 26th-best three-point shooting percentage in the country. The Bengals currently have the 241st-ranked defensive efficiency rating on KenPom and have allowed 81 or more points to be scored in three of their five conference games.
Sacramento State is a solid shooting team who can take advantage of the Bengals' defensive flaws, but the Hornets are also a below-average defensive team. The Hornets have allowed an average of 70.9 points per game this season, and opponents are shooting 46.7% from the field against them this season. I see this point total being a tad too low based on the defensive abilities on both sides.
Eastern Washington (-2.5)
UT-Martin @ SEMO Under 157.5
Sacramento State @ Idaho State Over 131