Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 2:45 PM EST.
Alcorn St +7½ over GRAMBLING ST
8:30 PM EST. It’s not the marquee game of the evening but hidden among all the bigger ones is this beauty. Alcorn State is winless in five tries this season while Grambling State has three wins in nine games. Both records are weak but a winless team versus a three win team in a weak conference will almost always grab our attention and this one is no different. When taking back points in this range, we usually like the chances of the underdog to win outright and this one is no exception. Alcorn State is probably the better team.
According to KenPom, Grambling’s Strength of Schedule ranks 106th in the country while Alcorn’s SOS ranks 8th. Alcorn State’s five losses were to UAB, #6 Houston, Liberty, Vanderbilt and #2 Baylor. Thing is, Alcorn State was blown out in all five games and that’s a look the market does not like.
Grambling State’s three wins were against a Division II school, UL Munroe (4-7) and Alabama State (0-3). When the Tigers played Texas Tech for example, they lost 81-40 so it’s not like they have been competitive either against quality competition. They also lost to Grand Canyon by 16 and to Arizona by 19.
After watching Prairie View A&M hoist the SWAC chalice for two straight seasons, Alcorn State poached one of their own, Landon Bussie, one of the brains behind the Panthers’ operation. Such experience is worth bolding, underlining and italicizing on any coaching résumé, but Bussie is more than just a well-regarded understudy to Byron Smith. He’s a magnet on the recruiting trail, which should pay major dividends down the road. Until then, he’ll bridge the gap with a dynamite transfer twosome in Jacboy Ross and Kurk Lee. These two little dynamos are a perfect yin and yang complement: Ross, measured and steady. Lee, explosive and dynamic and now, for the first time this season, the Braves will not be overmatched or outclassed. They’ll be playing a team on their level.
Bussie and the entire coaching staff know this conference like the back of their hands and didn’t shy away from touting his knowledge of Alcorn’s existing roster from the scouting crow’s nest at Prairie View last year. Ross, Lee, Troymain Crosby and David Pierce will be a handful for opposing defenses but all this market sees is five blowout losses. We’re now the beneficiaries of a sweet take-back because of it.
Donte Jackson has done a nice job at Grambling since he arrived two seasons ago but he faces his toughest test since arriving. The Tigers wave goodbye to two All-Conference players, Ivy Smith and DeVante Jackson, along with human giant Travon Bunch. Smith will be the toughest to replace, Grambling’s pulse for three seasons who started every game except one since 2018. Replacing a point guard of Smith’s caliber is virtually impossible. The Tigers have been a 3-year tenant in the SWAC’s upper echelon, but that streak is in jeopardy in the wake of Ivy Smith and Devante Jackson’s expiration. Jackson’s reputation for swooping up solid JUCOs should prevent a major tumble in the 2021 standings, but regression is unavoidable. The Tigers very simply cannot be priced in this range against this foe. Upset possibility.
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Alcorn State +7½ -109 (Risking 2.18 units - To Win: 2.00)