Friday College Basketball Odds & Picks: How I’m Betting Eastern Kentucky vs. Belmont and Hampton vs. Radford

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M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Grayson Murphy

  • Mid-major conference tournaments hardly get top billing, but there's betting value in the Big South and Ohio Valley Conference on Friday night.
  • Among the games on our experts' betting ticket are Eastern Kentucky vs. Belmont, Hampton vs. Radford.
  • See Michael Calabrese's analysis and picks on those matchups below.

Dogs have been barking in a handful of mid-major conference tournaments (hello, Wyoming), but will that trend continue as we approach the semifinals in the Big South and Ohio Valley Conference tournaments?

Here’s how I’m playing a pair of No. 1 seeds laying double-digits, with their sights set on a double whammy of regular season and conference tournament titles.

College Basketball Odds & Picks


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Eastern Kentucky vs. Belmont Odds

  • Spread: Belmont -13
  • Over/Under: 156
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPNU

The Ohio Valley Conference Tournament has been all chalk thus far, with the top four seeds all advancing to the semifinals.

Belmont, Austin Peay and Murray State have all shown Cinderella flashes at times this season, and the eventual champion will likely throw a scare into a higher seed, at the very least, in the NCAA Tournament.

Eastern Kentucky appears to be the odd-man out. EKU (16-16 overall) really only has two things going for them. The Colonels’ backcourt of Jomaru Brown and Ty Taylor II are a high-scoring tandem that knows how to get to the line.

The other noteworthy statistical accomplishment is that EKU is one of just six teams in all of college basketball to sport a perfect record in “close games.” This stat tracks win-loss performance in games decided by five points or less.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely this will be a tight game down the stretch and Belmont is one of the most disciplined defenses in the country, fouling at the seventh lowest clip in all of Division I. So you can forget about EKU’s backcourt heading to the charity stripe a lot on Saturday night.

Finally, when you examine EKU’s performances against the top three teams in the OVC, it’s clear they’re outclassed. EKU went 0-4 SU and 1-3 ATS, which explains the generous spread in this spot.

They caught 10 points against Belmont two weeks ago at home, before falling by 13 points. When they tangled with the Bruins on the road earlier in the season? An 87-56 beatdown.

I’ll take the OVC regular season champ, which shares the ball better than any team in the country (first in assists per game at 18.1).

Pick: Belmont -13

Hampton vs. Radford

  • Spread: Radford -10
  • Over/Under: 149.5
  • Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN+

This is the time of year for special teams and special players. In the Big South semifinals that includes playmakers like Radford’s Carlik Jones and Hampton’s dynamic scoring duo of Ben Stanley and Jermaine Marrow.

But the “special” element of this game is Hampton’s defense, and not in a good way.

It’s almost impossible to be as bad across the board as Hampton is defensively. They rank 300th or worse in the following statistics:

  • Opp Points/Game
  • Opp Effective FG%
  • App Three Point%
  • Opp Off Rebounds

You can shoot inside or outside, and generate second chance opportunities at will. Hampton is also fully incapable of generating TOs, turning over opponents just 10.8 times per game (337th). The only thing that Hampton does well is avoiding fouls, which makes sense since they offer little to no resistance on the way to the tin.

Generally, laying double digits with a team that plays as slowly as Radford likes to play (339th) is risky. The runway factor is usually reduced, but in this spot two things are trending in favor of a Highlander rout.

Hampton is a dreadful road team (4-10 ATS) and will be playing on Radford’s home floor. The Pirates also have a tendency to fall off offensively during road trips. When playing their second or third consecutive road game, Hampton’s scoring average drops from 82 points per game to 67.

Unless Hampton gets to the line 25-plus times, a critical part of its game, I don’t see them hanging around against the class of the Big South.

Pick: Radford -10

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