Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 3:30 PM EST.
WRIGHT ST -11½ over Youngstown St
7:00 PM EST. Youngstown State was supposed to challenge in the Horizon this season in year four of the Jerrod Calhoun Rebuild. Youngstown State’s KenPom rating has gone from 322 to 259 to 232, and Calhoun's win total has followed the same route: 8 to 12 to 18. Considering the amount of key returning pieces in a fluid league, the incremental improvement appeared likely to continue but something is not right and we are going to try and take advantage.
Masking the Penguins massive flaws is their misleading 6-4 overall record, which has them as an overvalued commodity right now. One would be hard pressed to find six wins that are less unimpressive than the Penguins have racked up. YSU’s first three wins came against West Point, Virginia Tech West (not Virginia Tech), and Binghamton. They would then beat Northern Kentucky, Green Bay, and Carlow University. That’s three wins over three Division II schools and three wins against three putrid Division I schools. The Penguins lost twice to Cleveland State and also lost to Northern Kentucky and Green Bay. They didn’t just lose but the Penguins lost by 15 to Northern Kentucky, 18 to Cleveland State and 10 to Green Bay. YSU is getting way too much credit here.
The Horizon League has become somewhat of a joke. Following a season in which Wright State went 25-7 overall, 15-3 in the Horizon (winning the league by two games), Coach Scott Nagy was just a wee bit nonplussed by his team having zero chance at an at-large – and he put the blame exactly where it belongs:
“I don’t want to go through and have our 25 wins count for nothing. In order for that to happen, our league has to get better,” Nagy said. “The (non-conference) schedule is a portion of it, but you also can’t count as much on it because you really don’t know what kind of year teams are going to have…We’d just like to see our league get better. It’s incumbent upon everybody to be serious about that.
Nagy’s point is spot-on: the rest of the Horizon has crumbled around them. From 2010-2015, the league ranked no lower than 14th in KenPom’s conference rankings, allowing for the possibility of supporting an at-large résumé. However, Butler left during the 2012 offseason, Valparaiso bounced in 2017, and the rest of the league has not picked up any slack. The point is that Wright State is to the Horizon what Gonzaga is to the Mountain West -- it’s a one-horse race.
KenPom has Wright State ranked 91st in the country while YSU is ranked 243. Wright State’s Strength of Schedule (SOS) ranks 132nd while YSU’s ranks 316th. The Raiders have the league’s Player of the Year in Loudon Love, the co-Coach of the Year in Nagy, and two returning members of the All-Freshman team in Grant Basile and Tanner Holden. That makes Wright State well-positioned to defend last year’s title but more importantly, this is a team that is going to run up scores when possible. Finally, Wright State just lost to Oakland by 10 and that has the market a little sour on them but put no weight on that loss, as they beat Oakland by 39 points the day prior. They figured all they had to do was show up and it’s a nice wakeup call heading into this one.
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WRIGHT ST -11½ -110 (Risking 2.2 units - To Win: 2.00)