CBB midweek betting preview: George Mason to play Maryland tough
Thanks to two victories earlier this week, our record is moving back to a respectable 4-5 overall. As college basketball teams get into their rhythm, it seems like our picks do too.
We cover a total, an underdog, and a favorite for the Wednesday and Thursday schedule.
George Mason @ Maryland (-14, 136)
Nov. 17, 7:00 p.m. ET
George Mason has been one of the early season's pleasant surprises, winning each of its first three games by 21-plus points. The level of difficulty goes way up when the Patriots travel to Maryland on Wednesday. The Terrapins are also 3-0, but their wins - all against mid-major teams - each came within a 14-point margin.
The Patriots have so far lived and died by the three, scoring over 40% of their points from distance and allowing their opponents to take 42% of their shots from beyond the arc. That strategy should fare well against a Maryland team shooting a putrid 23.4% from deep while allowing its opponents to attempt 17 3-pointers per game. George Mason's Achilles heel on offense has been its propensity to turn the ball over, but Maryland's defensive scheme doesn't usually pressure the opposition.
The Terrapins' biggest advantage here is their size, with Qudus Wahab and Donta Scott able to dominate the Patriots down low. However, guards Eric Ayala and Fatts Russell have taken the most shots for this group. If Maryland fails to capitalize on the interior, this game should remain much closer than the spread indicates. The line has since been steamed to a shorter number, and while some of the value still remains, it won't much longer the way this is trending.
Pick: George Mason +11 or better
Tennessee Tech vs. UNC Asheville (-1, 141)
Nov. 18, 6:00 p.m.
UNC Asheville's offense has been uncharacteristically bad to start the season. KenPom's 28th most efficient unit in the nation last year is shooting under 40% from the field in 2021-22. What better way to get things going than against Tennessee Tech, which owns one of the worst defenses in the country. The Golden Eagles were torched on the interior last season, allowing teams to shoot 66% near the rim.
LJ Thorpe and Trent Stephney lead the way for Asheville. They're two strong guards who are much more comfortable attacking the basket than settling for perimeter jumpers. The Bulldogs should score at the hoop with ease against a small Tennessee Tech backcourt that doesn't have much rim protection to fix their mistakes.
The Golden Eagles' scoring also comes from a high-octane backcourt, plus an influx of size led by solid glass cleaner Mamoudou Diarra. Asheville has allowed a staggering 35 offensive rebounds over two games, making Tennessee Tech's offensive attack clear. In a contest where both teams have obvious scoring methods and struggle defensively, siding with the over is the right play.
Pick: Over up to 145
Indiana State vs. Old Dominion (-4, 136)
Nov. 18, 9:30 p.m.
Indiana State underwent a makeover this offseason and brought back only 24.5% of last year's minutes. The early results have led to a tight victory over a bad Green Bay team and a blowout loss to Purdue. The Sycamores' interior defense has been one of their biggest issues, with opponents shooting over 57% from two-point range against them.
Thursday's matchup sees Indiana State face Old Dominion, a group that's taken 77% of its shots from inside the arc this season. The Monarchs' four leaders in shot attempts are all hitting 50% or better on 2-pointers. There is simply much more physicality on Old Dominion's side, giving it a clear offensive advantage.
The Monarchs have been excellent at forcing turnovers on the defensive end, which could be a challenge for an Indiana State team with an inexperienced backcourt. In a neutral site game, Old Dominion should be able to bully its way to a semi-convincing victory.
Pick: Old Dominion -6 or better