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Rhode Island vs. Providence College Basketball Odds & Picks: Friars On Upset Alert

Rhode Island vs. Providence College Basketball Odds & Picks: Friars On Upset Alert article feature image

M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jeremy Sheppard.

  • Providence is favored over in-state rival Rhode Island on Saturday.
  • The Friars have a couple strong wins on their resume, but Rhode Island could provide an issue.
  • Keg taps into the game and breaks down the matchup below.

Rhode Island vs. Providence Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
2 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
Rhode Island Odds
-110o / -110u
Providence Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

The Rhode Island Rams and Providence Friars will renew the Ocean State Rivalry after the game was not played in 2020 due to COVID restrictions. The last time these two faced off in 2019, Rhode Island pulled off an upset win, beating the Friars 75-61. Providence’s A.J. Reeves and Nate Watson are the only two players from that game are still at these schools.

Providence enters the game at 7-1 on the season with some huge wins under its belt after beating both Wisconsin and Texas Tech. Meanwhile, the Rams are 6-2 with wins over Boston College, Harvard and Georgia State.

While both teams have looked great so far this season, this will be a huge factor in determining just how good they are. Providence leads the series all time at 74-58, while the last road win for Rhode Island came in the 2002-03 season.

Rhode Island Rams

In their last game, the Rams recorded their first true road win at Harvard, holding off the Crimson to win 64-57. But at one point, Rhode Island led by as much as 21 against Harvard, letting the lead fall all the way down to three before getting back on track. Holding on to win the game was a huge sign of improvement for the Rams who lost to Florida Gulf Coast just a few weeks ago after holding a 14-point lead. 

The Rams defense has been the biggest advantage for them so far this season, currently ranking 68th per KenPom in adjusted defensive efficiency. Rhode Island also ranks fifth in the country in blocks per game, averaging 7.25 per contest, while limiting opponents to just 62.5 points per game.  Opponents have also been limited to just 35.6% shooting from the field against the Rams.

Jeremy Sheppard has been a leader for the Rams, averaging 11.5 points and 3.6 assist per game, but Makhel Mitchell isn’t far behind at 11.3 points per game and 5.3 rebounds a contest to go with it. Mitchell is one of the nation’s best shot blockers with 26 on the season. Rhode Island ranks 88th in offensive efficiency per Kenpom, but only averages 72.1 points per game. Its biggest advantage offensively has been shot selection, as the Rams rank 24th in effective field goal percentage at 56.2%.

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Providence Friars

Coach Ed Cooley has an an amazing start to his 11th year leading the Friars. Providence enters the game coming off its third win against a Power Five opponent. In their last game, the Friars rallied back from being down 14 in the first half to beat Texas Tech. Their other two wins over Power Five opponents came against Wisconsin and Northwestern.

Providence’s biggest advantages this season have come on the offensive end of the floor. The Friars currently rank 47th per KenPom in adjusted efficiency, while also ranking 69th in effective field goal percentage at 53.3%. But what separates them from the rest has been their ability to get to the free throw line. The Friars have gotten to the line more than anyone else in the country and have made the shots when they needed to, averaging 73.4% as a team from the charity stripe.

They are also one of the most experienced teams in the country, ranking 11th in the country per KenPom, with an average of 2.7 years of experience on the team. But there has been one clear weakness that was exposed in their 58-40 loss to Virginia: The Friars can’t get much going if they are limited inside the paint. Providence ranks 229th in the country in three-point attempts per game and only 150th in threes made.

Providence has also won its last five home games, scoring an average of 79.6 points while giving up 66.8.

Rhode Island vs. Providence Betting Pick

There is a huge mismatch in this game that I think will be a defining factor. As previously mentioned, the Friars struggle when they can’t score inside the paint, and the Rams are one of the best defensive teams in college basketball around the basket. The Rams rank fourth in opponent two-point percentage, limiting opponents to just 38.9% shooting. And with one of the best shot blockers in the country in Makhel Mitchell, there is no doubt in my mind the Friars will struggle around the rim. 

The Friars will run into one of the best defenses they’ve faced this season, and I think it will be too much for them to overcome, which is why I’m taking the Rams at +5.5, a line that has already moved up from 5, the lowest I would take it at.

Pick: Rhode Island +5 or better

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