College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions: Keg’s “Bottom of the Barrel” New Year’s Day Mid-Major Bets

College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions: Keg’s “Bottom of the Barrel” New Year’s Day Mid-Major Bets article feature image
Credit:

Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

  • Loyola (MD) travels to Army while Milwaukee takes on Northern Kentucky in a Horizon League battle.
  • And don't forget about another mid-major duel with value, Idaho State vs. Montana State.
  • Keg has you covered with the best mid-major bests of Saturday's college basketball slate.

Welcome to the Bottom of the Barrel.

We’ve got an absolute beauty of a slate to kick off 2022, and I can’t think of a better way to start the year than with most, if not all, conferences now fully immersed in conference play.

So, without further ado, let’s look at some games that might get overlooked in such a large and noteworthy Saturday slate.


Saturday Mid-Major College Basketball Picks

The team logos in the table below represent the three games Keg is targeting from Saturday’s slate of mid-major college basketball games.

Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

Game
Time
Pick
2 p.m. ET
Loyola MD -1.5
2 p.m. ET
Northern Kentucky -5.5
3 p.m. ET
Montana State -12.5
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.
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Loyola Maryland vs. Army

Saturday, Jan. 1
2 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Loyola (MD) -1.5

The Greyhounds will make the trip to west point to take on the Black Knights Saturday to kickoff Patriot League play for both teams. Both teams have had up and down starts to the season, as Loyola enters at 6-5 while Army is currently 6-6.

But I think Loyola has a chance to upset Army at home. It’s been the better shooting team and is close enough to Army on defense to pull it off.

Army has been one of the worst offensive shooting teams in the country; the Black Knights rank outside the top 250 in both 3-point and 2-point shooting percentage. They have also been one of the worst teams in the country from the charity stripe, shooting just 60.1% as a team so far to rank 354th.

Loyola does have issues of its own. It averages just 68 points per game, ranking 216th in the country, while also allowing opponents to average 69.5 points per contest. But I think it will be able to get past an Army team that has issues all around this season.

I feel confident back the Greyhounds at -1.5 or better.

Pick: Loyola (MD) -1.5 or better



Milwaukee vs. Northern Kentucky

Saturday, Jan. 1
2 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Northern Kentucky -5.5

A frequent flyer on the Bottom of the Barrel returns again, as the Northern Kentucky Host the Milwaukee Panthers.

The Norse will look for their 11th straight win in the series against Milwaukee. In its last 10 wins against the Panthers, Northern Kentucky has won by an average of 11 points. Milwaukee’s last win in the series came on Jan. 12, 2017, a 68-58 victory.

The Panthers have played three conference games so far, and in those games, they have averaged 72.3 points per game, an improvement from the 60.5 per game they managed in nonconference play.

They’re been led by DeAndre Gholston, who is averaging 16 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Jordan Lathon is also a primary contributor, accounting for 6.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest.

Nevertheless, I think the Norse will be too much for Milwaukee. They’ve averaged 81.7 points per game in their last three home contests while allowing opponents to score just 63,7 points in those games.

Northern Kentucky has had some struggles this season that can’t be ignored, posting an effective field goal percentage of just 46.4% and shooting just 43.6% from 2-point range. But I think these numbers are due in large part to the Norse being a young and inexperienced team. It will improve as the season goes on.

I was able to get Northern Kentucky at the opener of -5.5, and I would feel comfortable backing the Norse as high as -8 over Milwaukee at home.

Picks: Northern Kentucky -5.5 (Play to -8)



Idaho State vs. Montana State

Saturday, Jan. 1
3 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Montana State -12.5

Plain and simple, Idaho State is one of the worst teams in college basketball. The Bengals are 2-10 on the season and 0-3 in conference play already this year.

They rank 323rd in adjusted offensive efficiency and 294th in defensive efficiency. In their last game, they suffered a 24-point loss to Montana on the road.

I think Montana State is a better team than Montana, for comparison. Both teams are 9-5 on the year. The Bobcats are shooting 35.4% from 3-point and 50.7% from 2-point range, and I expect them to shoot even better against a team allowing opponents to average 46.9% overall.

I believe it wins in a blowout, so I would feel comfortable backing Montana State as high as a 15-point favorite.

Pick: Montana State -12.5 (Play to -15)



“Bottom of the Barrel” Beverage Recommendation

Finally — our drink recommendation of the day.

It’s the day after New Year’s Day, all of these games start before 3 p.m. ET and there’s a decent chance most of us will still be feeling the effects of a late night.

With that said there’s one piece of advice I heard long ago that sticks with me every weekend: You can’t get hungover if you don’t stop drinking.

And with that, I will be reaching for one of the most underrated Irish whiskeys I’ve encountered: Slane. And if you aren’t a fan of Irish whiskey itself, I cannot recommend using it in an Irish breakfast shot enough — a great way to start a massive day of college sports.

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