College Basketball Bottom of the Barrel: Best Mid-Major Matchups to Bet on Saturday (Week 1)

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David Lefranc/Kipa/Sygma via Getty Images. Pictured: A cellar of Jameson Whisky in Dublin, Ireland.

  • Belmont takes on Evansville, while Bellarmine duels Murray State.
  • And don't forget about Cal Baptist against Mississippi Valley State.
  • Keg offers up his best bet for all three games.

Bottom of the Barrel · Week 1

Low- to Mid-Major College Basketball Picks for Saturday, Nov. 13

When I had my first interview with Ryan Collinsworth — the college sports senior editor for the Action Network — one of the first things he asked me was what my favorite thing to bet on was. While it may be the best interview question I’ve ever had, it was also the easiest:

Low- to mid-major basketball.

It’s always been fascinating to me; everyone knows the blue bloods, the big names, but what about the Campbell Fighting Camels? What about the guy who averaged 25 points a game in JUCO last year?

Many people overlook the lower college basketball conferences, but it’s something I’ve enjoyed, and I’ve had success betting on these less popular programs.

So, let’s move to the “Extra/Added” page of the sportsbook oddsboard and take a look at some of the games that no one is talking about on Saturday’s Week 1 college basketball slate.


Game
Time
Pick
5 p.m. ET
Belmont -13.5
8 p.m. ET
Bellarmine +7.5
10 p.m. ET
Cal Baptist -28.5
Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

Evansville vs. Belmont

Saturday, Nov. 13
5 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Belmont -13.5

The first game that caught my attention on Saturday’s slate was Evansville traveling to play Belmont. The Bruins are one of the best teams in the OVC.

They also boast a top-100 pace of play, which Evansville will likely struggle with as one of the country’s slowest-paced teams. Belmont had a tough loss in its first game against an impressive Ohio team, but I believe that the Bruins will bounce back at home against an inferior opponent.

I’m betting Belmont at -13.5 and would bet them up to -14.5.

Pick: Belmont -13.5



Bellarmine vs. Murray State

Saturday, Nov. 13
8 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Bellarmine +7.5

The second team I like on Saturday is being wildly underrated by oddsmakers. Bellarmine makes a trip to the far western corner of Kentucky to take on the Murray State Racers on Saturday night.

Bellarmine did have a 29-point loss in its opening game — but that was against the No. 4-ranked Purdue Boilermakers. Meanwhile, Murray State rolled NAIA opponent Cumberland 109-77.

Murray State returns four starters, but -7.5 feels like too many points. Contrary to current odds, I contend that Bellarmine vs. Murray State will be a close game that Bellarmine could potentially win.

Bellarmine has a gauntlet of a non-conference schedule to start the season. This is one of the few games it realistically could win, and I think Bellarmine is well aware of that.

  • Saturday, Nov. 13 | at Murray State
  • Wednesday, Nov. 17 | at Saint Mary’s
  • Friday, Nov. 19 | at No. 1 Gonzaga
  • Monday, Nov. 22 | vs. No. 2 UCLA
  • Tuesday, Nov. 23 | vs. Central Michigan

I’ll take the Knights with the points and will also wager a small amount on the moneyline.

Pick: Bellarmine +7.5



Mississippi Valley State vs. Cal Baptist

Saturday, Nov. 13
10 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Cal Baptist -28.5

… And finally, a team that I assure you will be a mainstay in this column each week: The Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils.

The Delta Devils travel to California Baptist to take on the Lancers late Saturday night, and yes — I do find it hilarious that the Devils are playing a Christian school.

However, betting on the Devils has been no laughing matter. I say this with all due respect to the MVSU athletic department: The Delta Devils have been — and I believe will continue to be — one of the worst teams in Division-I college basketball.

During the past three seasons, this team has a cumulative record of 12-75. The Devils have always garnered massive spreads that bettors find hard to stay away from, but I promise you that no spread is too large for opponents to still cover. In their first game of the season — as a 44-point dog — the Delta Devils lost by 58.

Cal Baptist has a solid team that could contend for a top-five position in the WAC. But beyond the team’s talent, there’s another factor to playing at Cal Baptist: Home-court advantage.

Dear college basketball fans, it’s great to have you back!#LanceUp⚔️ pic.twitter.com/flq1l1AbjY

— California Baptist Men's Basketball (@CBUmbb) November 12, 2021

Before 2020 when fans were allowed in the arena, Cal Baptist ranked among the country’s elite programs in home attendance — second-best in California.

Pick: Cal Baptist -28.5


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