Bryant vs. Wright State First Four Odds & Picks: How to Bet This NCAA Tournament Showdown (Wednesday, March 16)
Will Newton/Getty Images. Pictured: Hall Elisias.
Bryant vs. Wright State Odds
-110o / -110u
|Wright State Odds|
-110o / -110u
Wright State and Bryant enter the Big Dance on similar trajectories. Both underperformed preseason expectations in the non-conference, dropping seven games each before league play began.
They found their footing, though, making it through their respective league tournaments despite stiff competition.
Wright State needed a game-winning jumper with 10 seconds left in the Horizon title game to advance past Northern Kentucky.
Meanwhile, Bryant dominated the NEC championship game, but barely survived the semifinals. The Bulldogs edged Mount St. Mary’s by one in that contest, needing some late drama to squeak out a victory.
Wright State is making its second NCAA Tournament appearance under Scott Nagy (last was in 2018). On the other hand, Bryant is in its first-ever Big Dance.
Bryant is the rare mid-to-low-major that has fully embraced the direction that modern basketball is moving.
Fourth-year coach Jared Grasso has slowly but surely accumulated talent via strong recruiting and the transfer portal, and the Bulldogs blitzed NEC opponents as a result. Remember: they got up 38-6 at one point in the NEC Tournament final.
Grasso’s squad wants to get up and down, thriving in transition with rim attacks and open 3s. Peter Kiss and Charles Pride form one of the most lethal scoring duos in the mid-major ranks. Sharpshooter Adham Eleeda has made nearly 100 triples from the wing.
They do not run much ball screen action, instead relying on Kiss, Pride and Luis Hurtado to win via one-on-one driving.
Defensively, they pressure and zone, hoping opponents take quick shots when they do not turn it over. Hall Elisias is the best shot-blocker in the conference, providing a security blanket when the defense gambles for steals. More physical opponents can blitz the Bulldogs on the offensive glass.
The Bulldogs had issues stepping up in class. They lost by 15 to Cincinnati, 19 to Rhode Island, 23 to Clemson and 67 (yes, 67) to Houston. Their style banks on outscoring opponents — against superior talent, that can get ugly.
The Raiders play through a talented trio that hits every key position.
Center Grant Basile is a monster on the block, a brute who combines excellent positioning with soft touch. Wing Tanner Holden can score inside or out, and he is particularly deadly going to his strong left hand. Both Basile and Holden live at the free throw line.
The third key cog is point guard Trey Calvin. Wright State often goes as Calvin goes. Holden and Basile are constants, but if Calvin is getting in the flow, Wright State goes to another level.
Given how deadly that trio can be, opponents often found it easiest to zone Wright State. The Raiders faced zones on 27% of possessions, per Synergy, the second-highest rate nationally. They often struggled to score against it, as it removed the ability to play through Basile on the low block.
Defensively, the Raiders struggled against dribble penetration all season. Their perimeter defenders lack lateral quickness, and though Basile is big, he is not a true rim protector.
Wright State is not deep. Per KenPom, the Raiders rank 356th nationally in bench minutes, relying heavily on their top four players. They play at a fast tempo despite this, perhaps contributing to their defensive woes this season.
Bryant vs. Wright State Betting Pick
Wright State has been better against zones lately. Nagy’s squad scored more than a point per possession in three straight Horizon Tournament games against the three best zones in the conference.
If that continues, it could negate a key edge for the Bulldogs. However, it is still a concern because it takes away posting up Basile as an option.
The larger issue is Wright State’s total inability to defend dribble penetration. Kiss, Pride and Hurtado could roast the Raiders’ defenders, repeatedly getting to the rim for easy buckets or drop-offs to Elisias.
Basile, Holden and Calvin are excellent, but they may not be able to outscore this Bulldogs offense. I think Bryant and the over are both solid plays, but I will officially endorse the Bulldogs.
Pick: Bryant +2 (Play to PK)
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