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Bryant vs. Vermont Odds, Expert Picks | College Basketball Betting Guide (Thursday, Jan. 5)

Bryant vs. Vermont Odds, Expert Picks | College Basketball Betting Guide (Thursday, Jan. 5) article feature image
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Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Deloney (Vermont)

  • In one of the better mid-major matchups of the season thus far, Bryant travels to Burlington to take on Vermont in an America East battle.
  • The Catamounts really match up well with Bryan on both ends of the floor.
  • Tanner McGrath breaks it all down and makes a best bet.

Bryant vs. Vermont Odds

Thursday, Jan. 5
7 p.m. ET
ESPNU
Bryant Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+2.5
-104
149.5
-115o / -105u
+126
Vermont Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-2.5
-118
149.5
-115o / -105u
-152
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

This is the biggest game in years for America East basketball fans.

Vermont is the six-time reigning regular-season champion, but the Cats look as weak as ever following a 7-8 non-conference campaign.

Meanwhile, Bryant is the team that’s supposed to shake things up in the conference. The Bulldogs play fast, shoot often and represent the biggest challenge to Vermont’s reign of terror.

Bryant also picked off Syracuse in the non-conference.

But both teams are 1-0 in conference play, and it’s time to clean the slate and play for the right to be atop the America East.


Bryant Bulldogs

Jared Grasso is a fun coach. His team runs at the fastest pace in the country, getting out in transition over a quarter of the time and scoring over 25 transition points per game.

Only Missouri and High Point score more transition points per game than the Bulldogs.

Additionally, Bryant will shoot the lights out on you, chucking over 26 3-point attempts per game and knocking them down at a 35.5% clip.

Grasso’s run-and-gun style leads to points, as the Bulldogs are seventh nationally in points per game (85.5). Four Bulldogs are averaging double-digits in scoring, including Sherif Gross-Bullock (17 PPG), Charles Pride (14.5 PPG), Earl Timberlake (15.7 PPG) and Antwan Walker (13 PPG).

That doesn’t even mention NCAA tournament cult hero Doug Edert and his 1.6 3-point makes per game.

Boiled down to its simplest level, Bryant is a collection of bucket-getters. Pride and Gross-Bullock are three-level scorers, Timberlake is an interior threat and Edert is a pull-up, jump-shot maestro.

These guys can score the ball, and they all push the pace as hard as possible. Look at this play against Binghamton, where the Bulldogs run down the Bearcats:

Coast ➡ Coast in 5️⃣ seconds.

Hawkins IV with the finish and Bryant leads 59-58 with 11:07 left.

Watch: https://t.co/QL0sRIi4a6 pic.twitter.com/iyJXAPxPOm

— Bryant Men's Basketball (@BryantHoops) December 31, 2022

Or this play, where Gross-Bullock stares down his opponent in isolation and drives baseline:

SGB with the flush and he's up to 25.

Bryant leads, 74-73, with 3:19 left.

Catch the ending on ESPN+/ESPN3: https://t.co/QL0sRIi4a6 pic.twitter.com/GK4usO7QHx

— Bryant Men's Basketball (@BryantHoops) December 31, 2022

Or this play, where Edert flashes the jumper before finding his big man for the finish.

Dougie DIMES.

He feeds Timberlake and Binghamton calls time.

Bryant with the first six points of the 2nd half.

Watch: https://t.co/QL0sRIi4a6 pic.twitter.com/JTxODEqFG2

— Bryant Men's Basketball (@BryantHoops) December 31, 2022

These guys are top-tier shotmakers that want to make their shots fast. It makes Bryant basketball very fun to watch.

Another fun wrinkle to Grasso-ball: Defense is optional in Smithfield, Rhode Island. It’s not exactly a lay-up line at the rim, but it’s pretty easy to penetrate Grasso’s zone.

Also, the Bulldogs allow many 3s (310th in 3-point rate allowed) and don’t care to defend them. Bryant is one of the worst spot-up defenses in the country (.973 PPP, 15th percentile) and one of the worst ball-pressure teams (214th in defensive turnover rate).

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Vermont Catamounts

I’m just waiting and waiting to see if Dylan Penn is fixed.

The Bellarmine transfer was the expected Newcomer of the Year in the conference, but a broken hand in the preseason threw those plans for a loop. In November, Penn looked like a guy playing with a broken hand.

Penn’s scoring was fine at times, like when he dropped 27 in a double-overtime loss at Cal State Fullerton. However, the turnovers were a monster issue, as he handed the ball away 11 times in his first three games and 20 times in November.

Penn has cut down on the turnovers since, with just eight over his last five games. Additionally, he dropped 20 in the Toledo game and 19 over UMBC.

The Cats are 7-8, and Penn’s broken hand is a part of that. The guard couldn’t integrate into the Vermont system fast enough, which led to lackluster results.

But Vermont also just played a tough schedule. Like, arguably the toughest low-major schedule in the country, with games against Saint Mary’s, USC, Iona, Yale, Colgate and Toledo.

Coach John Becker spoke a bit about the tough scheduling, saying he may have been “a little too aggressive.”

Ahead of the Bryant-Vermont men's #AEHoops matchup tomorrow night on ESPNU, @TheAndyKatz sat down with @coachbeckeruvm to discuss @UVMmbb's tough non-league slate, their game plan for tomorrow night, and his major milestone tying one of @UVMathletics greats! pic.twitter.com/hSlpYkvqQo

— America East (@AmericaEast) January 4, 2023

At the minimum, this team is battle tested. And plenty of good things can be taken from this miserable non-conference performance.

For example, Aaron Deloney is a star. The guard is dropping around 12 points per game, but has shown flashes of brilliance, including a 32-point outing against Brown, a 20-point outing against Ball State and a recent five-game stretch where he averaged 15 points.

Additionally, Finn Sullivan has shown he can run this offense while playing some of the better perimeter defenders in the conference — his lengthy frame helps.

Meanwhile, Robin Duncan is a steady ball-handling presence, and Western Carolina transfer Kam Gibson provides backcourt depth and bench scoring.

Vermont has a collection of great guards, and they’re all interchangeable. But Becker has had to change the look of this team, as he no longer has a dominant interior presence (like he had with Anthony Lamb and Ryan Davis).

That could be a good thing for this game, however.


Bryant vs. Vermont Betting Pick

So, the first question is: which Catamount can play in the high post against Bryant’s zone?

Honestly, I’m not sure it matters. Vermont runs all of its stuff on the outside with its four-guard lineup, and Bryant is not suited to stop that.

Vermont’s spot-up numbers haven’t been great, but it goes to spot-up situations more than almost any team nationally. Bryant won’t defend that.

You should get plenty of Sullivan and Deloney in this one. Penn is a pure interior scorer, so he might not be suited to score in bunches against the zone. But he’s a shifty ball-handler, so he should still penetrate and find the open Cats on the perimeter.

Defensively, Vermont is a matchup nightmare for Bryant. The Bulldogs want to run-and-gun, but Vermont has been one of the best transition defenses in the country over the last few years. This season, Vermont ranks 47th in transition PPP allowed (.867) and 32nd in transition PPG allowed (8.3).

Becker is one of the better defensive coaches in the sport, and listen to him talk about the developments of his transition defense over the years.

John Becker of Vermont, one of the best defensive coaches in the country, discussing how he has had to adapt his transition defense philosophies

“Now everyone is running to the 3 Pt line”

(Via @BBallImmersion 🎥)

pic.twitter.com/NAwiOeWdbP

— Hoop Herald (@TheHoopHerald) October 16, 2022

The Cats still “get to the hole” first, but instead of crashing into a pack-line-type defense, the guys are coached to fan out and close out on 3-point shooters.

That’s literally how you stop Bryant.

Additionally, Vermont matches up well personnel-wise. Sullivan is an elite mid-major perimeter defender, and while Penn might not make an impact offensively here, he’s shown ball-pressure abilities far beyond what I expected.

In terms of stopping Timberlake, I think Becker will throw different bodies at him. You’ll see each of Matt Veretto, Perry Smith Jr., Ileri Ayo-Faleye and Jorge Ochoa on Timberlake at some point, which should wear the big man down.

Once Vermont stops Bryant from running-and-gunning, the Catamounts can control the pace with their methodical, slower-paced motion offense.

If that happens, it’s game over for Grasso.

Bryant got steamed down from the opener of +4.5 to +2.5 at the time of writing, but it’s all been heavy public money. Everyone knows you fade a trendy dog.

I also think this is the bottom of the market, and we’ll see some buy-back. I love the Cats at -2.5, but I would also play them smaller at -3.

Plus, this is the biggest Catamount game in years, being played at Patrick Gymnasium (one of the tougher venues in the conference) and televised on ESPNU.

Burlington is going to be a madhouse on Thursday night.

Pick: Vermont -2.5 at DraftKings (Play to -3)

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