Short Friday Slate For College Basketball Betting

By: Adam Markowitz | Thursday, January 19, 2012

Friday night on the collegiate hardwood is generally a light night, and this week is no exception. There are only five games that are on the slate, but without a single major conference school hitting the floor until Saturday, it gives us a chance to analyze some of the best mid-major teams in the land.

The AP Top 25 Poll in college basketball right now features three teams from mid-major conferences (No. 12 Murray State, No. 19 Creighton and No. 24 Saint Mary's). All three seem to be locks for the NCAA TourAdam nament at this point regardless of whether they win their conference crowns, but they aren’t the only teams that are going to be vying to be this year’s version of the Butler Bulldogs or the Virginia Commonwealth Rams, both of which were in the Final Four last year.

We’ll start with the Iona Gaels. The Metro Atlantic reps are 34th in the latest RPI rankings, above  other quality programs such as Xavier (No. 41), San Diego State (No. 42), BYU (No. 44) and Harvard (No. 48). They nearly beat the Purdue Boilermakers in their first game of the season, and they went on the road and beat a Richmond Spiders team that is always in the discussion for the dance.

The Gaels rank No. 3 in the land in offensive production, scoring 84.4 PPG, and the team is one of only  five in the country that is shooting 50.0 percent or better from the floor.

The names that you will want to learn on this team are Michael Glover and Scott Machado. Glover is averaging 19.0 PPG, is shooting 67.7 percent from the floor, and is good for 8.6 RPG as well. Machado is averaging 10.3 APG, making him the only player in the country to average double digits worth of assists per game.

Iona will be on display Friday night at 10:00 (ET) when it takes on the Rider Broncs on ESPNU.

The 8:00 (ET) tip-off on ESPNU features another one of these teams that can blow up your bracket in March. The Cleveland State Vikings don’t nearly have the RPI of some of the other top mid-major teams, as they only rank No. 69 and are dropping with every game. However, what they do have is a fantastic pedigree.

Cleveland State went dancing three years ago and pulled off the upset of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, and the argument could be made that they should have been in the tournament last year as well. Of course, this is the conference that houses Butler, the sweethearts of the dance the last two seasons.

Norris Cole has moved on from the Vikings and has emerged as one of the top role players for the Miami Heat in his rookie year in the NBA. Don’t think that this means that the team is void of talent, though. D’Aundray Brown leads a three-pack of players that are averaging double-digits in scoring per game.

The key for the Vikings in their defense. This unit ranks No. 25 in the nation, conceding just 59.3 PPG. If you think that is the result of a schedule chock-full of nobodies, think again. Cleveland State was able to open up the year with a convincing victory at the Vanderbilt Commodores.

The Vikings put their 15-4 record on the line on Friday night at home against the Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix, who have covered four straight road games.

There are three other games on Friday night that can all be seen on ESPN3. The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles take on the Stetson Hatters at 7:00 (ET), the Youngstown State Penguins host the UW-Milwaukee Panthers in a 7:05 (ET) tip, and the Manhattan Jaspers pay a visit to the Marist Red Foxes at 9:00 (ET).

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