Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 12:30 PM EST.
7:00 PM EST. Coach Bryce Drew is trying to build something special at Vanderbilt, but you've got to crawl before you can walk. The Commodores returned all but two players from last year's roster, so we can understand how this year's 6-11 start to the season has to be considered a disappointment. Vandy has a top-5 recruiting class coming in next season, but it's not like Coach Drew is looking ahead to 2018-19. Drew knows that the veterans that are on his team now are going to be the ones who are expected to lead the way for the Commodores very promising future so he's running this group through the meat grinder. Vandy has played the seventh-toughest schedule in the nation according to KenPom. The Commodores have faced a murderers row that no coach named 'Pitino', 'Smith', or 'Izzo' would ever dare attempt. Non-conference games with USC, Virginia, Seton Hall and Arizona State stand out the most, but even the mid-majors that Vandy has played are not to be taken lightly. Belmont and Middle Tennessee State are tough outs and both squads handed the Commodores a loss. The SEC is tougher than usual this season, so Vandy's struggles to start conference play were not unexpected. The Commodores' stock has been further lowered after losing four of their last five, but Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida have all been ranked at some point this season, while South Carolina was a Final Four participant a year ago and is good again this year. To give you an idea of the oddmakers respect for South Carolina, it is just a 1½-point dog to Kentucky tonight.
Mississippi State is 13-4, but that impressive win total is the kind of optical illusion that would make Criss Angel blush. Unlike the Commodores, who have taken their lumps against the best schools that will stand in front of them, the Bulldogs have been getting fat at the cupcake buffet. MSU has faced just the 282nd most difficult schedule in America. The Bulldogs were a pooch just once during non-conference play in a game at Cincinnati, where they got whacked 65-50. Since SEC play began, the Bulldogs have suffered for their early season gorging of weak competition. MSU is 1-3, including three straight losses to Ole Miss, Florida and Auburn.
There is tremendous value in this line. Three games ago, Vandy was taking back 3½ points against South Carolina, then they were a small pooch at home to both the Vols and Jayhawks. Now, the Commodores are taking back a larger price against a Bulldogs squad that is not in the same league with the top teams in the conference. Vandy is the much better team here, which makes these inflated points even more appealing, but you can keep them, as there is even more value in the money line. Don't sleep on the Commodores. Vandy is battle tested, still loaded with talent in its starting lineup, and there is a long way to go before the dust settles on Selection Sunday. The Commodores might be the most undervalued team in the country, and we're not going to miss the chance to ride them until the market catches up.
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#531 Vanderbilt +159 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.18)