College Basketball Mid-Major Odds & Picks: Keg’s Bottom of the Barrel Bets for Saturday (Jan. 29)
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- There are plenty of power conference college basketball games on Saturday, but there are also a lot of mid-major games with value.
- Keg has five mid-major bets loaded up and read to go for Saturday, including Lafayette vs. Army and UCSB vs. Hawaii.
- Check out all five of his top mid-major bets below.
Bottom of the Barrel Picks for Jan. 29
There are just seven more Saturdays until we have an NCAA Tournament bracket. We are more than halfway there.
The Bottom of the Barrel plays are 15-11 on the year, hitting at a 57.69% rate. Decent, but it doesn’t make up for going 0-3 last week.
However, I love the Saturday slate so much that I would introduce it to my mother. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the five games I love this week.
Lafayette vs. Army
The Black Knights, who are tied for first in the Patriot League will host the Lafayette Leopards Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.
Army will be returning home after a two-game road trip that saw it sneak out of the Naval Academy with a 74-73 overtime win and suffer an embarrassing 84-71 loss at Lehigh as a one-point favorite.
Army will also be looking to split the regular season series, after losing to Lafayette by 14 on the road earlier this month as a 2.5-point favorite.
I think this meeting will be different. The Black Knights thrive on their home court. Army is 8-1 straight up and 7-1 against the spread at home while also scoring 4.7 points more per game It also limits teams to 6.5 fewer points at Christl Arena.
Lafayette is in the same boat, as it struggles considerably more in shooting percentage and turnovers on the road vs. at home.
The Army defense should have enough success creating turnovers to slow down the Lafayette offense, which ranks eighth in the Patriot League. The Army offense, which isn’t great, should still find success against a lacking Lafayette defense.
This spread is also lower than I expected it to be. I got Army at -7.5 and would take it as high as -9 to continue its home dominance.
Pick: Army -9 or better
Longwood vs. Winthrop
First and foremost, watch this game. You will thank me later.
This is the best game that tips at 3 p.m. ET Saturda,y and I’m prepared to die on that hill if need be. The two titans of the Big South will square off in what is likely to be a conference championship preview.
Longwood is first in the Big South North at 6-0, while Winthrop leads the South at 6-1 on the season. And while I do believe this will be a good and competitive game, there is a clear advantage for Longwood.
The Lancers rank second in the Big south in offensive efficiency. Winthrop is seventh. Longwood is averaging 73.8 PPG and surrendering just 66.4, and Winthrop averages 73.2 but is allowing 74.9 per contest.
The Eagles also have serious issues with ball security, ranking worst in Big South games in both turnover percentage and steal percentage. Longwood ranks first in steal percentage on defense.
Winthrop does rank first in 2-point percentage and 2-point defense. But I think Longwood’s ability to slow the game down by protecting the ball on its end and forcing turnovers on defense gets it the win in this one.
The Lancers also post a 7-1 ATS record at home compared to the Eagles, who are 2-9 ATS on the road. I got Longwood at -4.5 and would back it as high as -6.5.
Pick: Longwood -6.5 or better
Eastern Kentucky vs. Stetson
In the second game of its Florida road trip, EKU will face a team that finds itself in a similar situation to the Colonels.
Both teams are 2-5 in conference play and looking to stay out of the basement. Neither of these teams are “good” by any means, but I do believe EKU is the better of the two evils and is being underrated in the market.
Stetson’s defense ranks last in the conference in effective FG percentage, 2-point shooting percentage, and block percentage. All are areas that would give other teams over the Colonels, as they struggle on offense in all of those areas.
Stetson’s offense also ranks last in the ASUN in turnover percentage and 2-point shooting percentage. EKU ranks second on defense in turnover percentage and first in steal percentage.
EKU is just 3-5 ATS on the road, but both of its last two losses came by just the hook. Stetson, meanwhile, has lost its last three home games by an average of 18.3 points.
Lay the points with the colonels as high as -5.5.
Pick: Eastern Kentucky -5.5 or better
Eastern Washington vs. Montana
Eastern Washington’s success has been surprising. First-year head coach David Riley — who came into the season with just six players who had played a game for the Eagles — has made a splash in his first year.
The Eagles, who were projected to finish eighth in the Big Sky, currently sit sixth with an 11-9 overall record on the season.
However, I don’t think they are quite ready for the challenge that faces them in the Montana Grizzlies. They weren’t when they hosted Montana on Jan. 6, losing 90-78.
The Grizzlies’ second-ranked defense in the conference should have success forcing turnovers and limiting 3-point shots. The Eagles rely on 3-point shooting, and for good reason, as they lead the Big Sky in 3-point percentage.
But if Montana can limit them even slightly while also creating empty possessions for the Eagles, this game should be all Grizzlies.
Montana also plays at the second-slowest pace in the Big Sky, compared to EWU which is second-fastest. Slowing the game down will create even more problems for the Eagles who take the 63rd-most 3-point shots in the country.
EWU is 10-2 ATS on the road, but most of its success has come against the lower half of the Big Sky. Montana is 6-1 ATS at home, 9-3 as a favorite and has beaten the conference leader in Weber State.
I got Montana at -6 and would take it as high at -8.
Pick: Montana -8 or better
UC Santa Barbara vs. Hawaii
The True Bottom of the Barrel, the last game of the Saturday slate, is ol’ reliable: Hawaii at home on the island.
The Rainbow Warriors will host UC Santa Barbara, which is currently just 1-2 in conference play due to COVID-19 rescheduling.
The Gauchos came out of their 10-day layoff and flew by Cal State Northridge, winning 72-45. However, I don’t think the result against the second-best team in the Big West will compare in any way to the one they had against the second-worst.
Hawaii is 6-3 SU on the island, while the Gauchos are 1-6 on the road. The Rainbow Warriors also boast the best offense and second-best defense in conference games.
UCSB’s offense does rank first in both effective field goal percentage and 3-point percentage in the conference, but the Warriors defense sits first in effective FG%, and is third in defending 3s.
The Gauchos defense is one of the worst in conference at defending 3s, where Hawaii creates 38.8% of its points. Santa Barbara is also at a serious disadvantage from the charity stipe, ranking ninth ,while Hawaii posts a Big Sky-best 82.3% from the line.
If that wasn’t enough, UCSB is allowing 5.9 more points per game on the road and scoring 2.5 fewer than compared to home games.
Back the Rainbow Warriors as high as 3-point favorites
Pick: Hawaii -3 or better
Bottom-of-the-Barrel Beverage Recommendation
And finally our beverage of choice, which only feels right to tie into the true Bottom of the Barrel bet in Hawaii to end the night.
Kupu Whiskey is something I discovered just last summer. Produced by Kupu Spirits — an extension of Maui Brewing Company — Kupu is a blend of corn, rye, and malted barley that’s aged in American oak barrels at Haleakala Ranch in bunkers that date back to World War II.
This is an exceptionally smooth whiskey that can be enjoyed straight.