The Mercer Bears may be winless after two Southern Conference games, but they could be the right college basketball pick against the Western Carolina Catamounts on Wednesday.
Everything looked good for the Mercer Bears. They were up 59-50 on the Furman Paladins last Saturday, but Daniel Fowler went nuclear for the Paladins, scoring 14 points down the stretch as Furman won 74-71. At least Mercer managed a push as a 3-point road dog, but it was yet another missed opportunity to beat the college basketball odds. The Bears are now 7-8 SU and 3-6-1 ATS on the season; in addition to Saturday’s push, two of their ATS losses were by a combined 1.5 points.
As you may have guessed, Mercer hasn’t been terribly fortunate this year. The Bears are dead last in Luck Factor according to Ken Pomeroy’s charts, leaking 0.185 in winning percentage through no obvious fault of their own. Maybe they’ll get some of that back on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET) when they visit the Western Carolina Catamounts (6-9 SU, 6-5-1 ATS). Western Carolina ranks No. 16 in Luck Factor at plus-0.116, and luck, she iz a cruelle mistresse.
Notice that we’re talking about the Southern Conference here. Somebody has to; this is one of the weaker low majors in Division I, ranking No. 22 out of 32 at Sports Reference. But they still have betting lines for the Southern, so if you’re serious about making money, this should be one of your go-to conferences for making NCAAB picks.
Even if you’re not a big believer in Luck Factor and regression to the mean, check out the ATS records in the Southern. As we say in the poker world, it’s a polarized range, with several teams making a big profit and several more deep in the red. The Catamounts and the VMI Keydets (5-9 SU, 3-4 ATS) are the only two teams within one game of .500 ATS in either direction. Compare and contrast to the highly popular ACC, where six teams are in the M’eh Zone, and another four teams are either up or down two games ATS. Squeezing any betting value out of that conference will be significantly harder, especially now that the non-con portion of the schedule is behind us.
As for Wednesday’s game, Mercer ranks fourth in the Southern at plus-3.1 SRS according to the Simple Rating System at Sports Reference; Western Carolina is No. 8 out of the 10 teams at minus-13.6 SRS. Pomeroy has the Bears at No. 111 overall (No. 29 offense, No. 274 defense) and the Catamounts at No. 276 overall (No. 275 offense, No. 269 defense). This has the earmarks of a slump-buster for Da Bears. If you can get Mercer at a good price, maybe –13 or better, give them some due consideration – and may the sphere be with you.