Wednesday College Basketball Odds & Picks: Colgate-Loyola Maryland, Long Beach-Cal Northridge
Elsa/Getty Images. Pictured: Jordan Burns
As books gather more and more information on power programs during conference play, value shrinks for high-profile matchups across the country.
Luckily, Wednesday’s slate offers a pair of games featuring single-digit spreads at the bottom of the board that I’m targeting.
Here’s how I’m looking to play these two mid-major matchups — Colgate vs. Loyola Maryland and Cal State Northridge vs. Long Beach State.
College Basketball Odds & Picks
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Loyola Maryland at Colgate
- Spread: Colgate -9
- Over/Under: 144
- Time: 7 p.m. EST
- TV: Patriot League Network
The long-suffering Loyola Maryland fanbase finally has a few reasons to feel optimistic. In short order, head coach Tavaras Hardy has transformed the Greyhounds into a tough out, largely by installing a guard-friendly offense that is tailor-made for playmakers.
Loyola shares the ball better than anyone in the Patriot League, evidenced by its 16.5 assists per game (17th) and the fact that nearly 64% of their buckets come from an assist (11th).
Their efficiency numbers, as a result of sharing the ball so well, explain why they snuck up on teams out of the gate this season. The Greyhounds opened the season 6-2 ATS and are 6-2 straight-up in their last eight.
This game will likely be decided on the low block, with Colgate getting Rapolas Ivanauskas involved early. The Patriot League’s best big has posted back-to-back double-doubles and is a matchup problem for most of the undersized teams in the conference.
Loyola can counter with a rotation that features three bigs all over 6-foot-7. Golden Dike, Brent Holcombe, and KaVaughn Scott each average over 17 minutes per game and will have their chance to keep Ivanauskas off the glass.
In their last game against Lehigh, Loyola got Mountain Hawks’ center James Karnik, into foul trouble, but was ultimately unable to keep him from posting a solid game (18 points on 9-15 shooting).
If the Greyhounds can stymie frontcourt, it will come down to Loyola’s Andrew Kostecka to keep them in the game. The senior guard has been a difference-maker this season, scoring nearly 25 points per game during their wins.
When his play falls off a cliff, so do the Hounds. In four of their six losses, Kostecka has failed to top 20 points. He’s the offensive engine, and he’ll need to rebound after a dreadful game against Lehigh in which he had more turnovers than buckets.
In the end, Colgate is far from a fearsome home team (3-3 ATS), and it’s always advantageous to back a sizable underdog who can really fill it up.
Pick: Loyola +9
Long Beach State at Cal State Northridge
- Spread: CSUN-5.5
- Over/Under: 155
- Time: 10 p.m. EST
- TV: ESPN3
The college fantasy basketball community is relatively small, which explains why most gamblers will happily pass on this late-night west coast matchup between a pair of 5-11 teams. But for those select few who do play fantasy college hoops and live in mid-major box scores, this game represents a tremendous opportunity to back one of the nation’s most prolific stat-sheet stuffers.
Lamine Diane, CSUN’s 6-foot-7 Senegalese superstar, has only played in three games this season after serving an academic suspension. Since his return, Diane is averaging 30.7 ppg, 11.3 rpg, and 2.7 bpg, all while adding a three-point shot that was not in his repertoire last season. The third-year sophomore is a revelation, and his return to the court has come at exactly the right time for the Matadors.
Without Diane, CSUN began the season 0-7 SU and 2-5 ATS. Since his return, the Matadors are 2-1 SU and coming off their highest-scoring game of the season, a 93-82 win in which they covered an eight-point spread against Morgan State. Diane went for 34 points and 13 rebounds with three steals in that game.
Will Long Beach be able to slow down Diane and the suddenly rejuvenated Matadors? The 49ers’ advanced defensive stats certainly shouldn’t inspire any confidence.
The LBSU defense is 300th or worse nationally in the following metrics:
- Opp Points/Game
- Opp Effective FG %
- Opp Shooting %
- Opp Three Point %
- Opp FGM/Game
- Opp 3PM/Game
Toss in the fact that they turn the ball over — on average 16.9 times per game (340th) — and you have a recipe for a blowout win for CSUN.
LBSU has lost seven of its last eight games straight-up and failed to cover in six of the eight. All seven losses have come by double digits, including a 39-point drubbing at UF.