Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:00 AM EST. Odds subject to change.
Jersey Mike’s Arena - Piscataway, NJ
Bryant +14 over Rutgers
12:00 PM EST. How about a little appetizer before Sunday’s 1:00 PM kickoffs? What we have here is an American East Conference squad facing off against a Big-10 resident and that alone inflates the number.
Both teams are 1-1, as Rutgers lost to Princeton by 7 points and then, as a 22-point favorite the Scarlet Knights beat a real cupcake in Boston U, 69-45. Bryant lost to Manhattan by a bucket and then destroyed a Division II team, however, it is Rutgers that is getting way too much credit here because the Scarlet Knights nearly found their way into a third consecutive NCAA Tournament before a February collapse largely caused by inconsistent offense. Coming off a season like that, losing your best shooter (Cam Spencer) and starting point guard (Paul Mulcahy) isn’t ideal. Those two highlight a group of six players leaving the program, five of whom were rotation players. Head coach Steve Pikiell has turned Rutgers into a consistent tournament contender thanks to continuity and player development but this season will be a new challenge given the pieces that need to be replaced. Jeremiah Williams (Iowa State) and Noah Fernandes (UMass) will be tasked with helping to fill the void left behind by Spencer and Mulcahy. Rutgers is nowhere near the team they were last year and it’s going to take more than two games for them to figure things out, let alone cover a big number like this.
Last year, Bryant faced high expectations in its first season in the America East. Fresh off an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2022, the Bulldogs were expected to fight with Vermont for the AEC title, but they fell short of those aspirations. A 6-1 start with three true road wins — including one over Syracuse — looked promising, but what followed was a middling 11-12 finish.
“I think we peaked after the Syracuse win,” head coach Jared Grasso stated. “We got a little complacent, comfortable, and I’m not sure we ever played good basketball consistently after that. It was a disappointment for us with the expectations we had coming into the season.”
Now entering Year 2 in the America East, Bryant will have the luxury of more roster continuity. The Bulldogs return six players who averaged 15 or more minutes per game last season, including two who were all-conference performers. They will be building on a fourth-place conference finish. Bryant underachieved compared to preseason expectations last year but still put forth a solid campaign. The Bulldogs posted an above-.500 record for the third consecutive year and finished fourth in the America East while learning the styles of the league. Bringing back a pair of all-conference players is a terrific place to start. Slowing down the pace, which is something they are focused on, while taking back a pile of points makes Bryant a very appealing proposition here.
Bryant +14 -107 (Risking 2.14 units - To Win: 2.00)