It’s the first weekend of the season and for those in a betting mood, there is plenty of action to kick things off on Friday. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite picks and games for the night:
Vermont -2.5 vs. St. Bonaventure
I love this year’s Vermont team...and it’s not just because I wrote the Mid-Major Madness pre-season preview for the Catamounts. By having Anthony Lamb return for his senior year, I really think Vermont is one of the best, if not the best, mid-major team out there. Going on the road for an opener against a solid A-10 team is always a tough ask, but if there is a team that can win and cover, it’s Vermont. The Bonnies have to be disappointed after losing by double digits on Tuesday to a middle-of-the-pack team in college basketball, the Ohio Bobcats. To make matters worse, they’ll be without Osun Osunniyi, who sustained an injury in the opener.
My pick: Vermont -2.5
Harvard -3.5 at Northeastern
Nothing like a Boston rivalry to kick off the weekend! If Northeastern and Harvard meeting in the second game of the season sounds familiar, it is. We had the same matchup last year at the same time. Last year, a Northeastern team that made the NCAA Tournament beat Harvard by 10 on the road at Lavietes Pavilion. Both teams have a game under their belts as Northeastern comes in after a five-point win at Boston University, while Harvard comes off an 84-27 win over MIT. Northeastern needed 39 points from Jordan Roland to hold off BU, and I’m not so sure he can replicate that effort against a top-25 worthy Harvard team. Look for Harvard to exact some revenge on Northeastern for last year..
My pick: Harvard -3.5
Auburn -2.5 vs. Davidson
This might be the game of the night, featuring No. 24 ranked Auburn and The Other Top 25 No. 25 Davidson. The nation will get to see Davidson’s two studs in Jon Axel Gudmundsson and Kellan Grady, who can really dominate the game. Auburn had a tighter-than-expected opener against Georgia Southern in an 83-74 win — a game in which Auburn was a 14-point favorite. Seniors Samir Doughty and Austin Wiley will be tough matchups for Davidson.
My pick: Davidson +2.5, U 145 — if you’re feeling it (which bettor isn’t) Davidson ML +120
Liberty -6.5 vs. Radford
Our Friday shifts us further down the east coast from Boston to Virginia as we look at an exciting ASUN/Big South matchup. After last year’s exciting run to the NCAA Tournament, Liberty returns eight of its top 10 scorers, putting the Flames in a position to be just as — if not more — successful than last year. A loss in last year’s Big South finals ended a good season a bit prematurely for Radford at 22-11. Unfortunately, the Highlanders didn’t get to play in any sort of postseason action but do return some good players, especially Carlik Jones. The returning strength of Liberty along with playing at home has me feeling warmed by the Flames.
My pick: Liberty -6.5
Navy +1 vs. ECU
Grand Canyon + 7.5 vs. Illinois
Loyola Chicago +5 at Furman
American -3.5 vs. William and Mary