Rice vs. Ohio Odds & Picks: How to Bet This CBI First-Round Game

Rice vs. Ohio Odds & Picks: How to Bet This CBI First-Round Game article feature image

Photo by Graham Stokes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Ben Vander Plas (Ohio)

  • Rice and Ohio go head-to-head in the first round of the CBI.
  • The Owls lost three of four to end the regular season while the Bobcats finished third in the MAC.
  • Kyle Remillard previews the game and offers up his best bet.

Rice vs. Ohio Odds

Saturday, March 19
7:30 p.m. ET
Rice Odds
-110o / -110u
Ohio Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Between the NCAA Tournament and the NIT, March is the best time of the year for college basketball faithful. But the NCAA gave us a third tournament — which started in 2008 — the College Basketball Invitational.

The invitational tournament was cancelled in 2020 and then limited to eight teams in 2021. But this season, we are back to the full 16-team field.

Despite all the attention surrounding the NCAA Tournament, there is still value to be had in the CBI.

Ohio will match up with Rice in the first round of the tournament that will be played in Daytona Beach.

Last season, Ohio made a run in the NCAA Tournament, defeating the defending national champion in Virginia. Now the Bobcats (24-9) will be one of the premier teams in the field in this tournament.

They will match up against a Rice program that finished 16-16 and comes by way of the Conference USA. The Owls will have a chance to play in a postseason tournament despite sputtering down the stretch, winning two of their final nine games.

With these two programs expected to fire away from deep, this game will likely be determined on the perimeter.

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Rice Owls

Rice opened the season with a 14-9 record that was highlighted by a victory over UAB. But the group struggled down the stretch, winning two of its final nine matchups, including an 18-point loss to North Texas in the Conference USA Tournament.

The Owls get a second chance to end their season on a high note in the CBI.

The offense is well-rounded bunch that has four players averaging in double figures. Quincy Olivari and Travis Evee are a tremendous one-two punch who both can light it up from outside. The duo has connected on a combined 40% of its 402 outside shots this season.

6-foot-11 Max Fiedler provides an inside presence for the Owls, while putting up 11 points and nine rebounds per game.

Rice also looks to get up-and-down the floor at a fast pace while averaging 74 points per game. The group looks to get out in transition for quick hitting 3-pointers.

Despite Fiedler's size, the Owls have been horrid defending the paint, as they rank outside the top 250 in 2-point defense. They’re nearly dead last in block rate and forcing turnovers, which could prove costly in this matchup.

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Ohio Bobcats

Ohio enters the CBI as the three-seed after finishing fourth in the MAC regular-season standings. Jeff Boals' group caught fire in the middle of the season, winning 14 of 15 matchups between December and January. But down the stretch, the Bobcats won just one of their final five games.

The Bobcats rank in the middle of the country in offensive efficiency. Over 45% of the team's shot attempts come from beyond the arc, where it converts at a 34% clip.

Everyone that sees the court for the Bobcats can hit the outside shot. The top six leading scorers have all attempted at least 90 3-pointers this season.

Point guard Mark Sears is the most reliable of the bunch, as he has connected on 42% of his attempts from behind the arc. Sears is the leading scorer — putting up 20 points per game — and is terrific at getting to the free throw line, where he doesn’t miss.

6-foot-9 big man Ben Vander Plas spreads out opposing defenses, as he leads the team in 3-point attempts. Sears and Vander Plas have contributed to 56% of the team's assists this season.

The group has done well defending the perimeter, holding opponents to 31% from deep. The struggle has been defending the interior, where the Bobcats rank outside the top 250 in 2-point defense.

Rice vs. Ohio Betting Pick

Ohio had one of the top-scoring offenses in the MAC this season. The Bobcats averaged 74 points per game and eclipsed the 80-point mark in a dozen games. They have capable outside shooters at all five positions who can light it up from deep.

They match up against a Rice program that has been horrid defensively. The Owls rank outside the top 300 in defensive efficiency, allowing opponents to get whatever they want both inside and out.

Ohio’s high-octane offense will be able to dominate against Rice. The Bobcats have been able to lock down the perimeter this season, which will be the deciding factor as the Owls' offense relies on its outside production.

Rice has really struggled since February, winning just three of its last 11 matchups. Those victories came against a non-Division I opponent, Southern Mississippi (340th), and Charlotte (205th).

Ohio is among the favorites to win the CBI and will get out of the first round with a comfortable victory.

Pick: Ohio -6 (Play to -7)

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