Dec 8, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Wagner Seahawks guard Zaire Williams (12) shoots the ball during the second half against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Bryce Jordan Center. Penn State defeated Wagner 74-54. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
The Wagner Seahawks face the Bryant Bulldogs for the NEC title on Tuesday, March 8
Wagner and Bryant have been the two best teams in the NEC all year
Below, see the Wagner vs Bryant odds and best bets
The NEC title game goes tonight with the Wagner Seahawks (21-5, 9-4 away) visiting the Bryant Bulldogs (21-9, 13-1 home) at Chace Athletic Center in Smithfield, RI, at 7:00 pm ET.
Bryant, the regular-season champion, is favored to earn the NEC’s autobid to the NCAA Tournament.
Wagner vs Bryant Odds
O 149.5 (-110)
Odds as of March 8th at BetMGM.
Currently, Wagner is a 4.5-point favorite at home in Smithfield. As a -200 moneyline favorite, the Bulldogs have a 66.7% implied probability to win. At +165, Wagner’s implied win probability is just 37.74%.
Note that New York betting apps will not feature this game as state law prohibits wagering on in-state college teams like Wagner.
Why Is Bryant Such a Big Favorite?
Comparing the current odds to the resumes, ratings, and NET rankings of these two teams leads to one big question: why is Bryant such a big favorite?
Both KenPom and Torvik rate the Seahawks considerably better than Bryant. Wagner is 127th at KenPom and 129th at Torvik, while Bryant is 201st and 193rd, respectively. Both of those highly-influential analytics sites predict a Wagner victory straight-up.
Part of the reason Bryant is favored is that this is a legitimate home game. But that’s not the whole story. KenPom and Torvik factor that into their predictions.
The biggest reason for the discrepancy is health. Wagner lost starting guard Elijah Ford at the start of February and haven’t really looked like the same team since.
While they are a phenomenal 21-5 overall this season – and even knocked off VCU in a true road game in November – they are just 4-3 since Ford went down. That includes a 78-70 setback to Bryant in this very same arena on Feb. 26. That win gave Bryant the NEC regular-season title (and the right to host this game).
🎥 🏀 Wagner – VCU: The Mini Movie #Toughness pic.twitter.com/KYsxDaxeZJ
— Wagner Men’s Basketball (@Wagner_MBB) November 14, 2021
SBD’s projected March Madness bracket had Wagner penciled in as a #15 seed as of March 6, based largely off of the comparative NET Rankings. It’s safe to assume that, if the Bulldogs win on Tuesday, they will find themselves on the #16 line come Selection Sunday. They have too many early-season losses to overlook.
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Wagner vs Bryant Betting Trends
Both teams are above .500 against the spread this year. Wagner is 14-10-1; Bryant is 15-13. The Bulldogs covered both regular-season meetings: they lost by three as eight-point road underdogs in January and, as previously mentioned, won by eight as 4.5-point favorites at home last week.
That said, even with a sterling 13-1 straight-up record at home, Bryant is just 7-6 ATS on their home court. Wagner has an identical 7-6 ATS record on the road, which is downgraded to 2-3 as a road underdog.
Wagner looked excellent in its quarterfinal and semifinal matchups in the NEC Tournament. The Seahawks obliterated St Francis (PA) 82-53, covering as 11-point home favorites, before handing LIU a similar beatdown (82-62) as 5.5-point home chalk.
See you on Tuesday #Toughness pic.twitter.com/0UceqWoJRt
— Wagner Men’s Basketball (@Wagner_MBB) March 6, 2022
Bryant on the other hand is 0-2 ATS in its two NEC Tournament games. They won by 14 in their opener against Central Connecticut (73-59) as 16.5-point favorites and then squeaked out a one-point victory over Mt St Mary’s (70-69) in the semis.
Bryant trailed that game by seven points with under five minutes to play before mounting an 11-0 run.
Saturday was fun.
One last look as we get set for Tuesday’s NEC Championship. pic.twitter.com/UrCZTaALQz
— Bryant Men’s Basketball (@BryantHoops) March 7, 2022
Wagner vs Bryant Pick
The spread in this one is too big to stomach. Wagner has indeed struggled with Ford out of the lineup, but he was only their third-leading scorer. Senior PG Alex Morales (18.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.9 APG) is the MVP of this team, and he still has fellow double-digit scorers Will Martinez (12.5 PPG) and Raekwon Rogers (10.9 PPG) as running mates.
In a championship-type atmosphere, look for Wagner to at least keep it close, if not pull off the outright upset.
Pick: Wagner +4.5 (-110)