Furman @ VMI
VMI +15½ -105 over Furman

Posted at 11:30 AM EST. Odds subject to change.

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VMI +15½ -105 over Furman

Cameron Hall - Lexington, VA

Streaming: ESPN+

6:00 PM EST. According to prognosticators, the Paladins of Furman were supposed to be the best team in the Southern Conference (SoCo) this season but they are just 8-9 overall (2-2 in the conference) and have looked or played nothing like what the projections were for them. Furman has already lost to a Division II team when they lost by five points (79-74) to Anderson (SC) just 2½ weeks ago. The Paladins are coming off back-to-back wins over The Citadel and East Tennessee State in which they covered both but those games were on Furman’s home court and they were a -7 and -11½ point favorites respectively. After two wins and covers against two of SoCo’s bottom feeders, the Paladins are being asked to spot a bigger number on the road here and it’s not warranted. The reason Furman is such a big favorite is because the Cadets of VMI  have less credibility than Bernie Madoff and we’re going to try and take advantage.

Man, does this game check a lot of boxes for us. For one, Furman beat VMI last year in both contests by 23 and 31 points respectively. However, it is more important to note that Furman was a -17-point favorite at VMI last year and this year the Paladins are worse while VMI is much improved despite their record not suggesting so.

A first head coaching gig is never easy. When that first gig means having one of the youngest and smallest teams in the country, quickly building a winner in a debut season becomes an even more arduous task.

Andrew Wilson found himself in that unenviable spot at VMI in 2022-23. His Keydets ranked 350th in KenPom’s D1 Experience statistic and 354th in Average Height. Sprinkle in a few untimely injuries, and VMI was fighting an uphill battle all season. There are no easy fixes that exist at a military academy, either. VMI cannot simply dip into the portal for droves of veteran pieces to patch over its deficiencies. Instead, this season’s roster is even younger, featuring nine (yes, nine) true freshmen but Wilson has been eager to meet the challenge. These Keydets are healthier, deeper, and poised to play a style truer to Wilson’s coaching roots, foreshadowing improvement despite the sizable herd of rookies. For instance, the Keydets were a 24-point underdog to ‘Ole Miss and lost by two points. They also lost by just 10 to Air Force, a team that took Colorado State to OT last night. They also lost by just 10 to South Carolina. Throw in a few other close calls (a 2-point loss to Wofford and two 4-point losses to South Dakota and Presbyterian) and VMI’s 3-14 record is misleading and could be closer to 7-10 than 3-14.

VMI is getting better each week. They have talent and they’re going to surprise somebody soon. For a second straight year, Wilson knows how young his team is and what that means for preseason prognostications. Even with Taeshaud Jackson (dude is a beast) back as a linchpin, Wilson is plenty self-aware.

“All of the magazines and polls picked us last,” he recognized. “I’m comfortable in that role, and we found guys who are comfortable in that role. We think we can make some noise.”

That confidence can really make an imprint on a youthful roster, one that “doesn’t know what it doesn’t know,” to steal a common adage. The Keydets have experienced some sizable ups and downs throughout this long grind of a season, but the effort level is always there and on nights when the talent really shines, expect VMI to steal some wins from more experienced squads and progress in Wilson’s second campaign. This price is overly inflated because VMI has just one cover in its last nine games but don’t be fooled. VMI has been at home three times over that nine-game stretch and were a +4½, +5 and +2½-point pooch to Mercer, American and Presbyterian, not +15½ like they are here. Big overlay.

Sherwood

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Our Pick

VMI +15½ -105 (Risking 2.10 units - To Win: 2.00)

 

 

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