College Basketball Bottom of Barrel Bets: Keg’s Top Mid-Major Selections for Saturday
Photo by Soeren Stache/picture alliance via Getty Images
- Oral Roberts is in action this afternoon vs. Western Illinois while Eastern Washington hosts Idaho.
- And don't forget about Stephen F. Austin and Tarleton State in a WAC clash.
- Keg has three best bets for the mid-major affairs on Saturday.
Bottom of the Barrel Picks for Jan. 8
It’s the second Saturday of the year, and it’s the first Saturday without college football. We’ve got 65 days until Selection Sunday and 111 games on the slate today.
75 of them are before 6 p.m. ET!
But don’t get blinded by the 18 games involving top-25 teams — there’s plenty of profit to be found in the Extras/Added tab of the sportsbook. So, let’s take a look at the games you’ll have to ask the bartender to change the channel for.
Oral Roberts vs. Western Illinois
Oral Roberts will travel to take on Western Illinois on Saturday in a Summit League matchup.
When you look at these two teams they are a lot alike. Oral Roberts is 10-6 on the season while Western Illinois is 10-5. Both teams are also two of the three-fastest paced teams in the Summit, behind only South Dakota State.
And finally, they both rely heavily on their offense output and have struggled to limit any team they have faced.
Oral Roberts is averaging 78.4 points per game while Western is averaging 77.8. Both rank inside the top-40 in the country in terms of scoring output.
However, the Leathernecks are allowing opponents to average 75.2 points per game while the Golden Eagles allow opposing teams to rack up 73.5 points per contest.
156 is a daunting total, but it’s still lower than where I think these two teams will end up. I expected this total to open closer to 159, and I wouldn’t be surprised if both of these teams break into the 80s.
Therefore I’m taking the over, which I was able to get at 156.5 and would feel comfortable at any number below 160.5.
Pick: Over 156.5 (Play to 160.5)
Idaho vs. Eastern Washington
Our next not-so-big matchup comes from the Big Sky Conference, as the Eastern Washington Eagles welcome Idaho to Cheney Washington.
Eastern Washington is currently 8-7 on the year, 2-2 in the Big Sky and boasts a top-50 win early in the season over Washington State.
The Vandals, meanwhile, are 3-9 and their biggest and most surprising accomplishment is there’s actually a Division I college basketball team in the state of Idaho worse than them (shoutout Idaho State at 2-11).
But in all honesty, Idaho might be worse than Idaho State. The Vandals rank 342nd, per KenPom, and boast the 350th-worst defense in adjusted efficiency. They also rank 350th in scoring defense, allowing opposing teams to record 82.9 points per contest.
On offense, they are averaging a solid 69.6 points per game, especially for a team that is one of the worst 2-point shooting teams in the country, hitting at just 42%.
And the lone positive for this Idaho team is it ranks 54th in the country in 3-point shooting at 36.2%. But that shouldn’t be a problem for the Eagles, who have been able to limit opposing teams to just 31.1% from deep.
This line opened at 12.5, which is where I was able to get it. But I would feel comfortable taking Eastern Washington as high as a 15-point favorite.
Pick: Eastern Washington -12.5 (Play to -15)
Stephen F. Austin vs. Tarleton State
And our final matchup of the day comes from the Western Athletic Conference, where Stephen F. Austin will take on Tarleton State.
SFA is ranked 134th, per KenPom, but I think it is not only a top-100 team, but my favorite to come out of the WAC. The Lumberjacks currently have three players averaging in double figures, led by one of the best players in the WAC in Gavin Kensmil.
Kensmil is averaging 15.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, while also shooting 63.7% from the field and 50% from 3-point range.
There are some issues for the Lumberjacks, but I think their numbers are largely reflected by the teams they have faced. They turn the ball over on 23.3% of plays and have allowed opponents to hit 53.6% from 2-point range. But SFA has played Buffalo, Saint Louis, Liberty and Kansas.
Tarleton State, meanwhile, has faced some high-level opponents itself, but the results have been very different. While the Lumberjacks lost by just eight to Kansas, the Texans suffered a 26-point beatdown early in the season.
The Texans have been decent on defense, but they just don’t have the offensive output to keep up with SFA.
That is why I’m taking Stephen F. Austin at -1 and would take it as high as -3.
Pick: Stephen F. Austin -1 (Play to -3)
Bottom-of-the-Barrel Beverage Recommendation
So, with three bets for the first Saturday without college football, the only thing left to do is our beverage of the day.
With games starting at noon and the last tip-off coming at 10 p.m. ET, it’s going to be a long, long day of gambling. So, you’re going to need something to get you through the whole day, but nothing too strong that you find yourself fading before we hit the 7 p.m. ET slate.
Look no further than Blade and Bow.
Blade and Bow is made by Stitzel-Weller Distillery, which was reopened in 2014. The original distillery owned and operated by Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle opened on Derby day in 1935.
Pappy passed in 1965, the company all brands were sold in 1972 and the distillery closed in 1992.
However, Blade and Bow is now made using the Solera Aging System, which combines the old stock of bourbons from the distillery’s final days in 1992 with younger whiskeys to make an amazingly smooth bourbon.