Providence vs. Rhode Island Odds, Picks & Prediction | College Basketball Betting Preview (Saturday, Dec. 3)

Providence vs. Rhode Island Odds, Picks & Prediction | College Basketball Betting Preview (Saturday, Dec. 3) article feature image

Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Providence Friars Mascot

  • Providence and Rhode Island face off in the Ocean State Rivalry on Saturday from Kingston.
  • Ed Cooley has been excellent (both SU and ATS) against Rhode Island in his career with the Friars, but there is another angle to target.
  • Jim Root tells you that and more below.

Providence vs. Rhode Island Odds

Saturday, Dec. 3
5 p.m. ET
Providence Odds
-110o / -110u
Rhode Island Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

A distressing side effect of conference realignment is the dissolution of key rivalries. I, for one, will greatly miss the Bedlam game of Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State.

Fortunately, many local rivalries will live on despite the moving conference borders. Providence and Rhode Island — better known as the Ocean State Rivalry — is a battle for supremacy in the USA’s smallest state. It has been played 133 times (!) in history, with annual meetings alternating between each campus site.

The pandemic prevented a clash in 2020-21, but otherwise, the rivalry has been played annually for decades.

The Rams will host on Saturday, and they hope that new coach Archie Miller can resurrect their fortunes.

Ed Cooley, well on his way to being a legend at Providence, has owned the rivalry since arriving in 2011. Under Cooley, the Friars are 8-2 straight up and 7-3 against the number. Considering every spread since 2006 has been 7.0 points or fewer, that dominance is impressive.

The under is also 6-2 in those meetings (two did not have a total).

Again, though, with Miller taking over in Kingston, the rivalry has entered a new era.

Providence Friars

After last season’s stunning run to the Big East title and a berth in the Sweet 16, the Friar Faithful may still be living in the afterglow.

The on-court results have struggled to match last season’s glory, as well.

The Friars currently sit at 5-3 overall, but they are 0-3 against top-200 opponents (losses to Miami, Saint Louis and TCU). They are a dismal 2-6 against the spread, failing to cover by an average of 3.6 points per game.

This is not altogether unexpected, of course. The Friars lost all five starters, and though Cooley corralled a talented cadre of transfers, the team was always going to take time to gel.

Providence ranks 284th nationally in minutes continuity, per KenPom — that measures how many minutes are played by the same guys as last season.

Even with point guard Jared Bynum back to run the show, that’s a ton of turnover.

And Bynum, the reigning Big East Sixth Man of the Year, has not been the consistent bedrock that Providence had hoped.

In his last three games, Bynum is averaging just 4.7 points per game. He is shooting a grotesque 5-of-32 from deep this season (15.6%). Last year, he led the entire Big East in 3-point percentage in league play.

So where does that leave the Friars? Will their leader find his footing and right the ship? That would certainly help Providence’s hopes as a whole, providing a rallying point for the turned-over roster.

Heading into such a crucial rivalry game, Bynum must quickly rediscover his excellent form.

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Rhode Island Rams

If Providence struggled out of the gates, then Rhode Island completely face-planted. The Rams lost their first two games outright; they were 9.5-point and 7.5-point favorites, respectively.

They then barely knocked off a decimated Stony Brook team (the Seawolves’ only cover of the season thus far) and got obliterated by Kansas State.

That 0-4 start against the number seemed bleak — and the word out of the locker room matched it. Miller brought in a bevy of new pieces this offseason, and they clearly were not fitting together well.

The most notable issue came with point guard Brayon Freeman, expected to be an all-conference candidate after arriving from league foe George Washington.

Freeman had only four points combined in the first two games before getting benched against Stony Brook. Miller said he need to “take a step back and recalibrate”.

Fortunately, the break seemed to work for Freeman — and the team.

Freeman returned and looked better against Kansas State, tallying 11 points. In the three games since, he has exploded with 20 points per game and 3.7 rebounds a night, providing the dynamic scoring boost that Miller thought he snagged in the portal.

As Freeman has gone, so have the Rams. They have rattled off three straight covers and nearly won at Boston College on Sunday. The defense has become a fortress, allowing just 93 points total in the last two games.

The Rams are also healthier. Wichita State transfer Josaphat Bilau, a 6-foot-10 powerhouse on the glass, has claimed a starting spot after missing the first three games.

Alex Tchikou, another French big man, returned against BC after missing two contests himself. That marked the first time Miller had both bigs available, and that size should continue to make an impact in the paint.

Providence vs. Rhode Island Betting Pick

I had a tough time with this line. Given how I have both teams rated and the lack of travel between the two schools, -4.5 appears too low.

However, the Rams are in much better form over recent contests, and Cooley’s dominance over the Rams has been far more ironclad in Providence (5-0 ATS at home).

Additionally, Cooley’s track record as a favorite is nowhere near as strong as when he is an underdog. Per Bet Labs, he is just 80-83-1 as a favorite at Providence, compared to 87-65-3 as a dog. That favorite mark is even worse over the last five seasons: 19-33, average cover margin of -2.33.

I am loathe to fight against my numbers, though, and I’d prefer to get the full five points if I backed URI on the side.

Instead, I want to ride the excellent Rhode Island defense while capitalizing on both offenses’ recent struggles.

As of this writing, the total sits at 131.5. Given the hotly-contested rivalry, the quality of both defenses and the historical trend of Cooley’s matchups here, I will ride the under down to 129.

Pick: Under 131.5 (Play to 129)

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