College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for Sacred Heart vs. Providence: Pioneers Being Undervalued Against Cooley & Co.?
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- Providence hosts another local squad at The Dunk as it faces off against Sacred Heart.
- The Friars beat Fairfield in their opener, but failed to cover the large spread.
- Mike Randle breaks down this non-conference clash and offers up his best bet.
Sacred Heart vs. Providence Odds
|Sacred Heart Odds|
+100o / -120u
+100o / -120u
Thursday consists of a good ole’ fashioned New England showdown between Providence and Sacred Heart.
Providence opened its season with an 80-73 win over Fairfield, led by 22 points from 6-foot-10 center Nate Watson.
Sacred Heart also started its season with a win, as it upset La Salle 86-81.
Providence was picked seventh in the 11-team Big East Conference, while Sacred Heart was predicted sixth in the Northeast Conference preseason poll.
This is expected to be a comfortable win for the Friars, but should we be dismissing a veteran Pioneers team that returns all five starters?
The Pioneers have annually been one of the top teams in the NEC, but took a step back last season due to COVID challenges.
However, the Pioneers return 11 scholarship players, including Alex Watson (16 points and five rebounds vs. La Salle) who is coming back as a super senior.
Sacred Heart has an experienced backcourt led by NEC Player of the Year candidate Tyler Thomas, who averaged 19 points and 5.2 rebounds per game last season. Thomas was brilliant in the Pioneers’ opening win, with 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
The Pioneers defeated the Explorers without a big game from senior Aaron Clarke, who averaged 13.3 points last season. Clarke only tallied nine points in the opening game, shooting just 1-of-5 from the field.
Head coach Anthony Latina always has a strong rebounding team and that should be an effective weapon against Watson on the interior.
Senior Cantavio Dutreil was one of the best rebounders in the country last year, tallying the eighth-best defensive rebounding rate and the third-best offensive rebounding rate in the country. Dutreil was true to form against LaSalle, nabbing seven rebounds in just 14 minutes.
He is supported inside by 6-foot-6 Bryce Johnson, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds with just one foul in 33 minutes in the opener.
The biggest surprise has been walk-on Joey Reilly, who played 34 minutes and made 3-of-5 3’s against the Explorers.
Ed Cooley’s teams are at their best when they can generate consistent defensive pressure, but that has been a recent struggle for Providence.
The Friars only ranked 293rd in defensive turnover percentage last year, a massive drop-off from a 44th-best ranking in 2019-2020.
While Providence did benefit from Fairfield’s 17 turnovers in their opening win, they will not receive as many gifts from this Sacred Heart team.
The most glaring concern for Providence is their 14 offensive turnovers against a Fairfield team that doesn’t usually force many. The Stags ranked 306th last year in defensive turnover percentage, yet fought their way back into the game despite falling behind 47-35 early in the second half.
Watson is a presence on both ends of the court, scoring 22 points with four blocked shots. However, Watson has never been a great rebounder for his size, (four rebounds vs. Fairfield), which will be a concern against an active frontline of Sacred Heart.
The Friars are hoping for big seasons from two guards, senior A.J. Reeves and Indiana transfer Al Durham.
Reeves has explosive scoring ability but needs to assert himself on the offensive end. Meanwhile, Cooley hopes Durham can both score and create opportunities for his teammates on offense. The guard duo combined for 31 points and shot 15-of-19 (79%) from the free throw line in the first game.
The Friars need to find a way to generate points from beyond the arc. Providence ranked 255th in 3P percentage last season and started the year poorly against Fairfield, shooting just 4-of-18 (22.2%).
The Friars will also need to have a better performance at defending the 3P after allowing a limited Fairfield offense to shoot 9-of-26 (35%) in the opener.
Sacred Heart vs. Providence Betting Pick
Sacred Heart is being undervalued as an NEC team playing on the road at Big East member Providence. The Friars failed to cover against Fairfield and the talent of Thomas combined with the Pioneers’ offensive rebounding will keep this game close.
I project the public will back the Friars, pushing this number even higher. I’m taking the 15.5 points with Sacred Heart in a game they could win outright.