College Basketball Bottom of Barrel Bets: Keg’s Top Mid-Major Selections for Saturday (Feb. 19)
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- Keg dives into three mid-major games on February 19, including Loyola Chicago and two West Coast affairs.
- Here's why Drake will cover against Loyola Chicago
- And also here's who to back in the other two West Coast games.
Bottom of the Barrel Picks for Feb. 19
With just four more Saturdays before we have a bracket, teams are jockeying harder and harder for position in conference tournaments. And in some conferences where more than one bid isn't a guarantee, teams are vying even harder for that first-place spot.
So, let's look at some games on Saturday that could have a massive impact on conference standings, and more importantly, tournament seeding.
Drake vs. Loyola Chicago
In recent years, the leading lady in the Missouri Valley Conference has been Loyola Chicago. Well, Sister Jean, if you want to get specific.
But since it joined the conference in 2013, there's always been tension between Loyola and Drake. The Ramblers lead the all-time series, 12-6, but what's even more impressive has been their record at home — Loyola owns a 7-0 mark all-time in the Windy City.
When we look at this year, Loyola sits atop the conference at 11-3, but Missouri State and Northern Iowa (who also play each other on Saturday) aren't far off. Both sit at 11-4, while Drake falls comes in fourth at 9-5 in conference play.
The Ramblers have been better at both ends of the floor than what we've seen from Drake. The most significant offset is that Loyola leads the conference in 3-point shooting while Drake is last.
So, it should be an easy game for the Ramblers, right? Not so fast. The Bulldogs pulled off the upset at home on Jan. 30, 77-68.
I think the Ramblers will play with revenge on their mind from their earlier loss in the season and will fight to keep their first-place spot in the conference.
However, Loyola Chicago opened as an 8-point favorite over the Bulldogs. The Ramblers are just 3-8 against the spread as a home favorite, and in this matchup, they're too big of a home favorite.
They may edge out the Bulldogs and come away with the win, but eight points is too many for me to pass up.
Pick: Drake +7.5 or Better
New Mexico State vs. Grand Canyon
If you've read this weekly article at any point this season, you know how I feel about the Grand Canyon Antelopes. But hear me when I say this may be my favorite spot for them all year.
After six of their last eight games have come on the road, the Lopes return home Saturday night. And I don't know if you've seen this, but GCU plays in front of one the rowdiest crowds in all of college basketball.
And there's no need to take my word for it. The Lopes are 12-1 at home this season and 7-4 ATS.
Grand Canyon has some additional motivation as well. The Lopes lost to New Mexico State, 71-61, earlier this season on the road.
They are also fourth in the WAC standings with four of their last five games of the season coming at home. If they want to secure a top-two seed in the WAC Tournament and the two byes that come along with it, the win streak needs to begin here.
Pick: Grand Canyon -3 or Better
Fresno State vs. San Diego State
We head even further out into the frontier for our final game of the night — a Mountain West Showdown in Fresno, California.
Before we talk about this game, I just want to take a second to acknowledge what a year it's been for the Mountain West. If three or more teams don't make the tournament, I will yell, "Recount" from the mountaintops.
With that said, the 35th-ranked San Diego State Aztecs, per KenPom, will travel to take on the 57th-ranked Fresno State Bulldogs in a battle for fourth place in the MWC (again, insane).
San Diego State has been the most effective defense in the country all season. But even that hasn't been enough to hold off some of the strongest offenses the Mountain West has to offer, as the Aztecs have suffered losses to Colorado State, Boise State, and Utah State.
Meanwhile, Fresno State is riding a three-game losing streak, but it boasts an impressive defense of its own. The Bulldogs have held opponents to just 58.2 points per game.
The Aztecs have also toppled lower-level teams in the MWC over their last four games, and three of those four came at home. It will be a much different outcome on the road against Fresno, which can challenge them defensively.
Fresno State is also 10-4 ATS at home this season, which is why I'm backing the Bulldogs as a 1.5-point underdog.
I would feel confident down to a pick'em.
Pick: Fresno State +1.5 (Play to PK)
Bottom-of-the-Barrel Beverage Recommendation
There's a Chicago team in the Bottom of the Barrel again. However, we are fading them. So, to my disappointment, we will be fading Malört this weekend as well.
Instead, I think it's more fitting we head out west with our beverage choice, just as we've done with our bets. So, I'll be picking up a bottle of Yellow Rose Outlaw Bourbon, made in Texas from the first legal distillery in Houston.