Saturday NCAAB Mid-Major Picks & Predictions: Keg’s Bottom of the Barrel Bets
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Bottom of the Barrel Picks for Saturday, January 21
Eight Sundays. 51 days. 1,205 hours.
However you count it, the bracket is coming.
On average, there are between 10-to-16 upsets in the NCAA tournament each season. The least ever came in 2007, when only four teams were upset. The most came in 2014, with 19 total upsets.
In 2021, we had 18, nearly tying the most ever. A season ago we had 15.
If you've been keeping up with college basketball this season, then you know just how volatile it's been, and that's why I think this year we are in for another tournament jam-packed with upsets.
Over the last 30 days, a $100 bettor would be up $844 betting every single ML underdog in college basketball.
But that's insane, right? No one would do that.
Betting every underdog of 10 or more points on the spread since the start of the season would put a $100 bettor up $2,260 and above 50%.
But that's still a little far out.
What if you only bet the moneyline on underdogs of 10 points or more for the last 30 days? A $100 bettor would be up 87.1 units and telling everyone how easy betting on sports is — because of course you would.
There isn't one team in college basketball right now that I feel 100% confident could make it past the first round if they got a tough draw.
Focusing on the teams that can pull off those upsets is how I got into college basketball and sports betting.
In this week's edition of the Bottom of the Barrel, I want to focus on three teams who I think not only have an opportunity to win on Saturday, but are three teams no one wants to see their name next to on Selection Sunday.
Bottom of the Barrel College Basketball Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that Keg is targeting from Saturday's slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|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.|
Charleston vs. Northeastern
If you haven't heard of the 22nd-ranked Charleston Cougars by now, I would love to see the rock you have been living under for the past two and a half months.
The Cougars hold the longest active win streak in college basketball at 19 games.
Charleston looks to move to 9-0 in conference on Saturday as it ships up to Boston to take on the Northeastern Huskies.
Playing on the road hasn't affected the Cougars much. Charleston is tied with UCLA for the second-longest road win streak in college basketball.
Now, for those of you who are familiar with Charleston — and fell in love with them as I did when it opened the season 8-2 ATS — know the struggles the Cougars have had as of late.
Charleston is just 1-4 ATS in its last five games and 6-4 ATS in its last 10. The oddsmakers have adjusted and if anything, they are overvaluing the Cougars, who have been favorites of 15 or more in each of their last three games.
Will the streak go on forever? Likely not.
Can they cover against the Huskies on Saturday? I believe so.
Charleston leads the CAA in both offensive and defensive efficiency against conference opponents.
And while Northeastern has been impressive on offense — specifically from 3-point range, where it leads the CAA by hitting 41.8% — its defense won't have an answer for Charleston.
The Cougars have held conference opponents to 30.5% from the 3-point line, while also forcing them to turn the ball over on 18.6% of possessions.
Northeastern has allowed CAA opponents to hit 37.5% from beyond the arc and has been even worse as of late, allowing 41.5% over its last five games.
The Huskies rank 320th in the nation in turnovers per game (14.9) and are averaging 17.3 fouls per game in conference.
Charleston leads the CAA in drawing fouls (18.4 per game) and averages 19.6 free-throw attempts per contest.
Northeastern's pace might slow the Cougars down to some degree, but it won't be enough to offset its own turnover and foul struggles.
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Eastern Washington vs. Northern Arizona
The Eastern Washington Eagles were picked to finish fifth in the Big Sky by both the coaches and the media in the preseason polls.
After an 0-3 start to the season, the Eagles fought their way to 6-7 against a non-conference schedule that ranked just inside the top 150.
Now seven games into conference play, they're 7-0, winning by an average of 8.7 points per game.
Against conference opponents only, the Eagles lead the Big West in scoring, averaging 81.3 points per game. The next team behind them is Montana State at 71.9 points per contest.
Two of the conference's top-10 scorers — Steele Venters and Angelo Allegri — pace the Eagles, who, as a team, have posted the best effective field goal percentage (61.3%) in the Big Sky.
On defense, the Eagles rank sixth in the conference in points allowed per game (72.6) and lead the Big Sky in defensive rebounds and rebounding margin.
They have had some issues when it comes to fouling and turnovers, but I don't think that's a deal breaker against Northern Arizona.
The Lumberjacks are 10th in the Big West when it comes to offensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage. Their defense ranks eighth in the conference and has allowed Big Sky opponents to hit 54.5% of 2-point shots and 42.3% from 3-point range.
Northern Arizona has one threat: Jalen Cone.
Cone is the best 3-point shooter in the Big Sky, hitting 45.7% in conference play from deep and averaging 3.2 made 3s per contest.
But over the last five games, the Eagles have held opposing teams to just 33.6% from deep.
Cone may very well have a great night from 3-point range against the Eagles, but that won't be enough to knock Eastern Washington off, as the Lumberjacks will have no answers on defense.
Santa Clara vs. Saint Mary's
The Gaels have won eight of the last 10 meetings between the two and are looking to extend their series win streak to three games.
Saturday night will be their second meeting of the season, as Saint Mary's pulled off the win on the road at Santa Clara on New Year's Eve, winning by three.
Saint Mary's ranks first in the WCC in both offensive and defensive efficiency. It's also fourth in the nation when it comes to defensive scoring, holding teams to 56.8 points per game.
That's without mentioning that the Gaels are riding an eight-game win streak as the prepare to host the Broncos.
With that said, I think the Broncos can win this game outright.
Santa Clara has played the top teams in the WCC, taking down BYU in its last game and keeping it within 10 against both Saint Mary's and Gonzaga.
The Broncos will undoubtedly struggle on offense against a Saint Mary's team doing everything it can to slow down the game, but Santa Clara has seen this team once and nearly pulled off the upset.
Getting the Broncos here as a double-digit underdog seems way off from where I expected this line to be.
Saint Mary's has struggled to defend the mid-range lately, allowing teams to cash in on 38.3% of shots over its last five games. The Broncos are their best from the mid-range, and it's also where they take the majority of their shots from.
Santa Clara has an impressive defense of its own, as well, holding conference opponents to just 47.5% on 2-point shots. The Broncos have struggled to defend the 3, but have been in line with what the Gaels average, holding teams to 36.1% on the season.
At the end of the day, the biggest handicap on this game is a line that's way too high for a Broncos team that has not only proven it can compete with top competition in the WCC, but has been a covering machine.
The Broncos are 8-2 ATS in their last 10. They've also been 6-2 ATS as an underdog and 2-1 on the road. Saint Mary's may be at home, but it's been better covering the number away from Moraga, going just 5-7-2 ATS at home.
Pick: Santa Clara +10 or Better
Keg's Drink of Choice
With all this talk about underdogs and teams the casual college basketball fan might not be as familiar with, I feel obligated to go with a Bourbon this week that, in my opinion, is not appreciated anywhere near as much as it should be.
Baker Beam was born in Clermont Kentucky in 1936, the son and grandson of legendary master distillers Shucks Beam and Park Beam. He was born and raised on the distillery grounds and was head distiller at Jim Bean in 1978 when Jim Beam Black was released.
He had strong opinions on Bourbon and how it should be made — all of which are respected in Baker's Bourbon made to honor the man himself.
Baker's is aged seven years and is a single barrel Bourbon that comes from barrels stored only on the top floor of the main Clermont Warehouse of Jim Beam Distillery.
This is the best Bourbon no one is drinking. It's easy to find and worth every dollar.
Cheers, and good luck.