College Basketball Bottom of the Barrel: Best Mid-Majors to Bet (Saturday, Nov. 20)
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- UIC travels to Loyola Chicago looking to cover the spread yet again.
- Meanwhile, Oral Roberts takes on Central Arkansas and Western Illinois duels with DePaul.
- Keg breaks down what programs to bet on during Week 2 of the college hoops season.
Bottom of the Barrel · Week 2
Low- to Mid-Major College Basketball Picks for Saturday, Nov. 20
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 2 college basketball slate.
|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.|
UIC vs. Loyola Chicago
I think Illinois-Chicago is wildly underrated in this crosstown matchup against Loyola Chicago.
It enters this game on a two-game winning streak after losing its first game to Dayton on the road.
But the most significant point in this game is that Loyola Chicago has yet to play a top-200 team this season. The best team the Ramblers have faced is a Florida Gulf Coast squad ranked 201st by KenPom — a game in which they were an 18-point favorite and won by 12.
The Ramblers may look good on paper, ranking top-50 in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency. But again, I think this is mainly due to the fact they’ve played two teams outside the top 300.
Expect the Flames to keep this crosstown battle close. I have UIC at +19 and I would take it at anything better than +17.
Pick: UIC +19 (Play to +17)
Oral Roberts vs. Central Arkansas
I’m not sure how you could be unaware of what’s going on at Oral Roberts unless you live under a rock. The Cinderella team made it to the Sweet 16 last year before losing to the Arkansas Razorbacks.
This year, head coach Paul Mills returns alongside Max Abmas (24.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.6 APG), who gained national attention after his performance in the postseason last year.
Meanwhile, Central Arkansas is 0-3 straight up and against the spread. It ranks outside the top 300 in offensive and defensive efficiency and sits outside the top 200 in 3-point and 2-point shooting percentages.
Long story short, Oral Roberts is the far better team, and I expect it to roll through the Bears without much resistance.
As of writing, I have yet to find an available line on Oral Roberts, but I expect it to open somewhere between a 10-15 point favorite over the Bears, and I would take it no higher than 15.
Pick: Oral Roberts -11 (Play to -15)
Western Illinois vs. DePaul
On Saturday night, DePaul will welcome Western Illinois to the Wintrust Arena.
The Blue Demons are 3-0 straight up and against the spread on the season. DePaul had finished either last or tied for last in the Big East the past six seasons, but first-year head coach Tony Stubblefield will look to change that.
Joining Stubblefield in his first year at the program will be two top-100 talents in Jalen Terry (2.9 PPG, 1.1 APG, 0.5 ASP) and Ahamad Bynum (20.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.2 APG). Both have proven so far this season to be essential pieces for the Blue Demons.
DePaul has also been one of the best in the country in rebounding, ranking 12th overall and posting an offensive rebound percentage of 43.4%. Defensively, it ranks 115th in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom.
The Blue Demons have also played a tougher schedule than the Leathernecks, highlighted by a win over Rutgers on Thursday. I expect DePaul to cover the 10-point spread with ease.
Pick: DePaul -10 (Play to -10.5)
Bottom-of-the-Barrel Beverage Recommendation
I had planned for this to be a bourbon every week, but with three of our six teams involved in this week’s games residing in the greater Chicago area, it only feels right to advise a Chicago staple.
And I won’t lie to you, much like betting low-tier college basketball, you may have to hold your nose when you find yourself staring down the one, the only, Jeppson’s Malort.
I could not tell you precisely what Malort is. Gun to my head, I would guess at least 25% diesel fuel.
But I will be going out of my way to my local Chicago-style bar on Saturday to bring the Malort down off the shelf, and I encourage you to do the same.