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NEC's Best Bets: 11/12/21

In stock trading, the saying goes; "the trend is your friend". Well, I should have listened. Big East foes have hammered NEC teams in the season's first week, yet I steered clear of Providence -15.5 against Sacred Heart despite watching Aaron Clarke roll his ankle on Tuesday night. The Pios put up a good fight but ran out of gas at PC, ultimately losing 92-64.

Instead, I went with NJIT +2.5 (actually, +3.5) and got burned by a Highlanders team that couldn't hit a layup. Don't get me wrong; that Merrimack defense really smothered NJIT, but they had chances late. Also; if someone had told me Ziggy Reid would bust out for 18 and 10, including 4 of 6 from deep, I wouldn't have gone against Joe Gallo's group. Ya live, ya learn.

A reminder; this is not gambling or financial advice, and I'm not suggesting anyone copy me. These are my bets, and my bets only.

Season Record: 1-2

Today's bet: Bryant (+9.5) at Rhode Island

Look, I hate the line. Kenpom has URI favored by 12, and I was all ready to dive full length into this one. -9.5? That gave me pause, but I'm still taking the road 'dog here.

Am I nervous that Peter Kiss won't play? Of course I am! The star senior wing (and front-runner for NEC POY) sat out Bryant's exhibition win last week, as well as their season opening win against Fischer College (I can't help but think of this SNL skit when I see the name of that school) due to, what Jared Grasso called, a "violation of team rules" (as did sharp-shooter Chris Childs). If Kiss were to be out, I wouldn't go near Bryant here. But, this is the big in-state matchup, and the beginning of what could be a historic season for the Bryant program. I have no inside information here, but like, Kiss is playing, right?

URI struggled last season despite having zero Covid-pauses, finishing 10-15 overall and 7-10 in the Atlantic-10. Gone is Fatts Russell, who transferred to Maryland, and in is Ishmael El-Amin (Khalid's kid) from Ball St. Does that equate to an improved team? Rhody knocked off Boston U. 71-62 on opening night, but it wasn't pretty; they scored 0.99ppp and attempted just six three-pointers (making 2).

The projection systems are both bullish on the Rams, having them as top 5 A-10 teams, while the coaches picked them 7th and my friends over at Three Man Weave picked them 10th. I'd wager that both Kenpom and Torvik are giving Rhody the benefit of the doubt given their strong historical success, including making it to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament in both 2017 and 2018. But Danny Hurley is at UConn now, and I'm not sure URI has the shooters necessary to finish in the top half of that league.

The NEC has played two games against lower-level A-10 teams, and both covered; Sacred Heart has already knocked off La Salle on the road, and St. Francis (PA) nearly beat George Washington, having a shot to win late. Does URI have enough firepower to beat Bryant? Sure, probably. But will they beat them by double-digits? I don't believe so.

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