Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 3:45 PM EST odds are subject to change.
Detroit Mercy +105 over Ohio
Calihan Hall - Detroit, MI
7:30 PM EST. Early in the year, we’re always looking out for or to fade false favorites and we’re going to suggest we found another one here in Ohio. First off, Ohio has some market credibility while Detroit Mercy does not thus, right off the bat you’re paying extra points for NIL (Name, Image Likeness). Furthermore, the Bobcats are 2-0 Against the Spread (ATS) and that, too, adds to their market appeal. However, we’re not buying into Ohio because they’re a team in trouble.
You see, the conventional wisdom that the portal ruins mid-major and low-major basketball isn’t true, given the number of “down transfers” that move from high-major teams to bigger roles at smaller programs. But the pain is real for an Ohio team that saw its two best players, Mark Sears and Ben Vander Plas, leave for Alabama and Virginia, respectively. Sears was top-four in the MAC in scoring and assists, while Vander Plas was a star of the Bobcats’ NCAA Tournament team in 2021. Ohio brings in three transfers who will play roles, but the star power has faded. After opening the year as a 6-point dog at Belmont, Ohio would lose by just one. Then, as a 10-point fav at home, Ohio beat a completely depleted Cleveland State squad by 11. After this game, the Bobcats have a game against #20 Michigan on deck on Saturday so there’s a distinct possibility we catch the Bobcats here with their eye off the ball.
As for the Titans, well, officially, this counts as Mike Davis’ fifth year as the basketball czar at Detroit Mercy. Effectively, this feels more like his second. That is, if you slap three justifiable asterisks on his first three seasons. In 2019, Davis was hired late in the offseason cycle, putting him behind the 8-ball from the day he stepped on campus. In 2020, NCAA sanctions related to academic performance before Davis’ tenure stripped any significant postseason aspirations. Free of the external nonsense, Davis made headway in 2021. COVID,
however, cut that season down to just 20 games, though the Titans did manage to take home the bronze medal in the Horizon League. Last year finally felt like normal, and the Titans finished above .500 in league play for the second year in a row. Still, Davis entered this summer with an unsettled stomach. The focus for 2023? Keep the offensive gear intact while fortifying the defense, which doomed the Titans in key stretches last season.
Indeed, the return of Antoine Davis leaves the offense in good hands for a fifth-consecutive year. The younger Davis is the engine behind the Titans’ dazzling offensive efficiency, and he is well on his way to a Hall of Fame collegiate career. Some eye-popping numbers littering his stat sheet, courtesy of Director of Communications P.J. Gradowski: at 2,734 career points and counting, Davis is already Detroit’s all-time leading scorer, and 900 points away from the all-time NCAA record. He’s encroaching upon the NCAA’s top-10 in 3-point field goals made and holds a sterling 89 percent free throw percentage for his career, which ranks 22nd all-time. As for Detroit’s own record-keeping almanac, well, they should probably just plaster Davis’ logo on the cover. He’s the school’s leader in points, 3-point field goals made, free throws made, free throw percentage, and ranks seventh and 11th in assists and steals, respectively. In the Horizon League and against most other mid-majors, Davis is the best player on the floor every time the Titans take the hardwood. More often than not, that’s good enough to give Detroit a puncher’s chance night in and night out.
Antoine Davis’ last collegiate rodeo and pursuit of Pistol Pete Maravich’s scoring record will be a fascinating storyline to follow, but this season isn’t some glorified send-off tour. The Titans are real, buoyed by athletic enhancements in the backcourt and on the frontline. That, in turn, should generate seismic improvements on the defensive end, where the Titans must progress before climbing higher in the Horizon. The Davis Duo has been knocking on the doorstep for two straight years. A breakthrough may be coming. Detroit is 1-1 so far with a nothing win over Rochester U. However, they lost by four points to Boston College and that game was in Boston College. Boston College ranks 108th in the country while Ohio ranks 195th. You can’t deposit that info in the bank but you can sure as heck use it. Detroit straight up it is.
Detroit Mercy +105 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.10)