College Basketball Mid-Major Best Bets: Keg’s Bottom of the Barrel Selections for Saturday
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- Kennesaw State takes on Lipscomb while Jacksonville travels to Louisville to face off against Bellarmine.
- San Diego squares off against Pacific later at night.
- Keg offers up his best bets for all three games.
Bottom of the Barrel Picks for Jan. 22
We have a massive slate of games on Saturday, with a ton of big programs matched up throughout the day.
But don’t forget about the low mid-major games sprinkled all around those blue-chip matchups.
There’s always money in the Banana Stand.
Kennesaw State vs. Lipscomb
Our first game comes in the form of an ASUN clash, as Kennesaw State will travel to Lipscomb to take on the Bisons.
These two teams are at very different points in the season, and very different ends of the standings.
Kennesaw State sits at 3-0 in conference play and enters this game riding a four-game win streak.
Lipscomb, on the other hand, is just 1-4 in the conference and 6-10 on the year overall. The Bisons’ lone win in the league came against their competition for the basement of the ASUN in North Alabama.
On the season, the Kennesaw State Owls are averaging 71 points per game, while also posting an effective field goal percentage of 50.4%.
More importantly — and what I think will be the advantage in this game — is their defense. The Owls are limiting teams to 72.7 points per game and holding opposing teams to 52.5% in EFG%.
Lipscomb, meanwhile, is racking up 72.5 points per game and boasting an effective field goal percentage of 54.6%. But on defense, the Bisons allow opposing teams to run up 81.2 points per game, which ranks 349th in college basketball.
The Owls should also have an advantage on the boards, as they come down with 34.3 rebounds per game. Lipscomb allows teams to average 35.9 boards per game and is only grabbing 33.8 per game itself.
Kennesaw State has shown its ability to win on the road, winning and covering the spread in its last two games. And while the Owls may be just 7-5 ATS, they are covering by an average 6.7 points per game.
The Owls have also been better on the road, posting a 5-3 record ATS.
Lipscomb, meanwhile, is 5-12 ATS on the season, and is even worse at home at just 1-4.
I’m taking Kennesaw State ML, and I expect the Owls to leave Nashville on a five-game win streak.
Pick: Kennesaw State ML (+100)
Jacksonville vs. Bellarmine
The Jacksonville Dolphins head to Louisville in hopes of becoming the first team to beat Bellarmine in conference play this season.
The Knights had a brutal non-conference schedule, taking on top-10 teams like Purdue, Gonzaga and UCLA. And while they may have lost those games, it seems to have improved them overall as a team.
Bellarmine entered conference play at 6-8 on the season. They are now 10-8 and have not lost a game in league play.
The Bellarmine offense has been solid all year, but has gotten even better in conference play.
Over the last three games, the Knights are averaging 76.7 points per game and limiting opposing teams to just 64.7. The have also been shooting the ball considerably better, hitting 54% from the floor compared to 46.8% on the season.
On defense, the same can be said, but I think it’s much different. The Knights’ numbers are somewhat skewed because they’ve played some of the best offenses in the nation.
When you look at conference-only numbers, the Bellarmine defensive efficiency is third in the league, behind only Liberty and Kennesaw State. They are also third in 3-point defense, where the Dolphins have been one of the best in the ASUN.
The Dolphins are a good team defensively and play at one of the slowest paces in college basketball (340th overall), but I don’t think that will be anywhere near enough to stop the Knights.
The Dolphins’ offense is averaging just 59.1 points per per game and is one of the worst in the country in effective field goal percentage at 45.7%.
I don’t foresee this game being close. I have Bellarmine at -3.5, and I would take the Knights as high as a 6-point favorite.
Pick: Bellarmine -3.5 (Play to -6)
San Diego vs. Pacific
Our last game takes place in the WCC — the bottom of the WCC to be exact — as San Diego travels to take on the second-to-last-place Pacific Tigers.
Pacific is just 2-8 in its last 10 and currently boasts a five-game losing streak.
But San Diego is coming into its second of three road games in a row — its first came against BYU on Thursday.
And while Pacific is coming off of a COVID -19 pause, it is expected — at this time — to have most of its impactful players in the lineup. However, it’s still something to watch as we get closer to the game.
The Tigers have struggled at both ends of the court all year, yet they have been better at home. San Diego has struggled on the road and is in a tough stretch of games.
Pacific is averaging 70 points per game at home, while the Toreros are putting up just 66.1 on the road.
I think the Tigers can catch a tired San Diego team here and post just their third win of the season on Saturday. I have Pacific at a PK, but I would take it up to -1.5.
Pick: Pacific PK (Play to -1.5)
Bottom-of-the-Barrel Beverage Recommendation
And finally our drink recommendation of the weekend.
If you don’t know, Louisville will be retiring Russ Smith’s jersey on Saturday when it takes on Notre Dame.
I grew up in Louisville, and even being a Kentucky fan, it’s hard not to love Smith. What he did at Louisville was special, and he was one of the most unlikely stars of any National Championship team I can recall in recent history.
If you don’t know about Smith, I encourage you read about his story. But while you’re doing so, give his bourbon a try.
Russ launched his own brand of Bourbon called Mr. & Mrs. Bourbon. I tried it for the first time last week and I was surprised at how genuinely good it was.
I will say it has a lot of spice and is far from sweet, but still a solid bourbon.
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