Portland @ Kent State
Portland +5½ -108 over Kent State

Posted at 3:30 PM EST odds are subject to change.

Pinnacle +5½ -108 BET365 +5½ -110 SportsInteraction +5½ -110 888Sport +5½ -110

Portland +5½ over Kent State

M.A.C. Center, Kent, OH

Streaming: ESPN+

7:00 PM EST. Kent State is 2-0 but one of their wins was a resounding 22-point win over a Northern Kentucky team that has done some Horizon league damage over the past few years. Kent State was a one-point dog to NKU but steamrolled them. The market is back for more.

Portland has very little market credibility despite its 3-0 record. The Pilots three victories came against Lewis & Clark (Division II), Florida A&M and Portland State by just 7. The market perception of Portland being a nobody is incorrect and thus, we’ll attempt to take advantage.

OK out for the ‘Shantay slingshot’ in the Pacific Northwest! The Portland Pilots are no longer an automatic win or an exhibition tune-up for anyone. From 2019 through 2021, the Pilots tallied one league, yes, an impossible 1-32 in conference play over that span then Shantay Legans swooped in to rescue the moribund program from a five-year chasm. The Pilots got back on course immediately. Legans came one game shy of the 20-win mark in his first season in charge. Talk about a resounding resurrection of a program that looked like a barren wasteland just two years ago. A 7-7 WCC record was a notable accomplishment for Legans. Stretching back to his four-year head coaching tenure at Eastern Washington, Legans has never finished under .500 in league play. Legans clearly made an impression on his players, too, as all of them return for the 2023 campaign. With the whole band back together again, a year older and wiser, the Pilots are the sleeper team in the WCC.

Thanks to Legans’ coaching sorcery, the Pilots are no longer grounded in the WCC dungeon. Conventional wisdom says the Pilots are destined to climb even higher in 2023, but the devil is in the details. Not to discredit last year’s 7-7 WCC record, but the Pilots’ COVID-condensed schedule helped them duck rematches with Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and BYU last season. While the WCC is a treacherous maze to navigate, the Pilots are a real threat this year but the market is not taking them seriously just yet but we are until they will no longer be sneaking up on anyone.

The Golden Flashes won 23 games last year. Kent State marched to the MAC Tournament championship game, one win away from a trip to the NCAA Tournament, but couldn’t seal the deal at the finish line. Akron outlasted surging Kent State, stealing the automatic bid from under Kent State’s nose. A disappointing championship performance hoisted the Golden Flashes to the second spot on the podium. Most of the band is back for revenge, headlined by the backcourt trio of Sincere Carry, Gio Santiago and Malique Jacobs. The MAC is notoriously flush with great guard play, but the Flashes may house the best group in the conference. That’s a sturdy foundation to start from.

In closing, Kent State is projected to be a serious threat in the MAC while market perception on Portland’s stock has always been low. Why then did the books make the Flashes such an appealing home favorite here? Before you pull the trigger on Kent State, you better have a good answer to that question. We’re here to strongly suggest that Portland is a very strong team and one of the most under-the-radar teams in the country.

Our Pick

Portland +5½ -108 (Risking 2.16 units - To Win: 2.00)



Sam Houston State +4½ -108 over Nevada