Well, after a season that started out with three straight days of undefeated picks, we tasted defeat for the first time this year on college hoops yesterday, when we backed the Montana Grizzlies as underdogs in their game with the USC Trojans. But looking back on how the game played out, it didn’t have to end that way, as we were close to sneaking in this cover with less than a minute left to play.
I liked Montana to cover the 12-point spread as they are a solid small conference basketball team and could be dancing in March as they are co-favorites in the Big Sky. I knew that USC would have much more talent, but felt that the Grizz would do enough to keep the game competitive and cover the number.
Trojans took it to the Griz in transition to earn a dominant win. pic.twitter.com/FEJQCjgqKS
— USC Men's Basketball (@USC_Hoops) November 29, 2020
After a slow start in the first half, it looked like Montana was indeed going to cover that spread as they trailed 74-62 with just 30-seconds left to play in the game. The Trojans had the ball and could have easily run out the clock, but they decided against that and scored with less than a minute left to play in the game. Josh Vasquez had a good look from three at the buzzer to give us a back-door cover, but he bricked, and we came up a bucket short.
I guess in a season where we have been winning every bet, we are going to take a tough beat here and there, and I won’t let this one small setback slow down our momentum. Today we will look to get right back on track as we head to Bubbleville in Uncasville for the game between San Francisco and Rhode Island!
- Rhode Island Rams (1-2) at San Francisco Dons (2-1)
- Mohegan Sun Arena – Uncasville, Connecticut
- 2:30 PM PST
- TV: ESPN2
The Rhode Island Rams are looking to win back to back games tonight as they play the Dons of San Francisco in a non-conference contest. Rhode Island will be playing their fourth game in five days in ESPN’s Bubbleville, and after losing their first two games to Arizona State and Boston College, the Rams rebounded and picked up a decisive win over the Bulls of South Florida last night.
GAME DAY! Dons close out Bubbleville against the Rams!
— USF Basketball (@USFDonsMBB) November 29, 2020
For San Francisco, the Dons are the talk of the nation as they knocked off 4th ranked Virginia on Friday night, handing Tony Bennet’s Cavaliers their first loss of the season. It was a shocking victory as the Dons were reeling after an opening night loss to lowly Mass-Lowell and were 14-point underdogs. The Dons are looking to avoid the proverbial letdown game tonight in their final game in the bubble.
San Francisco Dons (2-1)
I didn’t think that San Francisco was going to beat Virginia on Friday night, but it really didn’t shock me all that much when it happened. Tony Bennet’s team has been known to blow it against lower-caliber teams, paging UMBC, and with their low scoring style, they are always at risk of losing a game if a team gets hot shooting the ball. And when you look at the Dons, they have actually done a very serviceable job of building up this program in the last several years.
The Dons have won at least 20-games in every season going back to 2017. Last year they won 22-games and nearly knocked off top-ranked Gonzaga twice, as they lost to the Zags by just 4-points at home and in the semifinals of the WCC tournament.
The Dons aren’t going to contend with Gonzaga for the WCC title this season, as Gonzaga is the best team in the country, but they could finish second in what is a wide-open league. The WCC has gotten multiple bids several times in the last decade, and a second-place finish in the league, with a win over Virginia on their resume, could be enough to send the Dons dancing in March.
Rhode Island Rams (1-2)
This is going to be a rebuilding year for the Rhode Island Rams. They do have talent, Fatts Russell is a great scorer and facilitator, but outside of Russell, they don’t have much in terms of proven commodities. They did bring in a bunch of potentially talented transfers, but having three or four of your regular rotation players as transfers, that are brand new to the program, tells me that this team is going to take some time to gel.
The loss to Boston College was a bad one as the Eagles aren’t going to sniff an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The win over South Florida got the Rams a notch in the win column, but it isn’t going to be one that stands out of their resume, as the Bulls are currently outside of the top-100 nationally.
The Rams will spend most of their season trying to get the new guys acclimated to the environment and hoping that they can come together in time for a late-season run in the A-10 tournament. Until then, expect them to hang right around the fringe of the top-100 nationally and struggle against quality teams.
Who Do I Like?
We know that the Rams are going to be limited this season. And we know that the Dons are nowhere near as bad as they looked when they lost to 213th ranked Mass-Lowell and nowhere near as good as they looked when they knocked off 4th Virginia. So, how do these two team’s matchup? I like San Francisco.
The Dons have done a great job of getting better every year, and the program is starting to look like a force out west. I don’t know if they are a tournament team this year, but they are going to at least be on the bubble. They wish they could take that early loss back, and it’s going to be an ugly blemish on their record on Selection Sunday, but after a crazy offseason, it’s hard to fault anybody too much for looking unprepared in their first game of the season.
This line opened up with the Dons as -1.5-point favorites. The data supported that number, as kenpom had them winning the game by a point. But I guess the public all figures that the books don’t know what a letdown game is, as they have hammered the Rams, moving the line towards Rhode Island significantly. Guess what sports fans? The books understand that teams tend to struggle after a big win, and that was built into this line. You didn’t discover something that they missed, you just think that you did!
In a spot where I can both back the analytics and fade the public, I love a play on San Francisco. I just see them as the better overall team in this matchup. Both teams are going to be a little worn out as they have both played four games in five days.
But the Dons did get a day off yesterday, and they should have the fresher legs because of it. I think the Dons are going to win this one outright, but thanks to the public, they don’t have to win for us to win our bet. I’ll snatch up the +2-points of insurance and back the Dons tonight in what should be a competitive game.