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Wright State vs. Bryant College Basketball Picks: Can Bulldogs Handle Pressure of First Tourney Game?

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Wright State Bryant picks
Wright State will clash with Bryant on Wednesday. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP.

There arguably hasn’t been a First Four game between two No. 16 seeds that are more talented than Wright State and Bryant since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 68 teams in 2011. Read on for our Wright State-Bryant First Four picks.

Bryant (22-9, 15-2) has been a Division I competitor since 2007, but this is its first NCAA Tournament appearance. The Bulldogs won both the regular season and conference tournament championships. However, they saved their best game for last, as the team earned a 27-point win over No. 2 seed Wagner in the conference tournament final.

Peter Kiss, the nation’s top scorer, leads the Bulldogs while averaging 25.1 points per game. Kiss is also averaging over 30 points per contest across the team’s last 11 matchups.

Meanwhile, Wright State (21-13, 15-7) enters the tournament after winning 19 of its last 25 games following a 2-7 start. The Raiders won the Horizon League Tournament as the No. 4 seed after securing a one-point win over No. 3 seed Northern Kentucky in a championship game thriller.

Tanner Holden (19.8 points per game), an All-Horizon League first-team selection, leads Wright State. Grant Basile (18.5 points per game) was also a second-team selection.

Here are my Wright State-Bryant picks and predictions for Wednesday’s college basketball First Four matchup (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook; Pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Wright State vs. Bryant College Game Info

Date/Time: Wednesday, March 16, 6:40 p.m. ET
Location: University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, OH


Wright State vs. Bryant Odds Analysis

Wright State opened at -2, but several sportsbooks like DraftKings and BetMGM have since lowered that to -1.5.

The Raiders have been favored in four of their last five games, and they’re 6-8 against the spread in contests with point spreads of four points or fewer (covered their last three). Bryant has been an underdog just once since Jan. 15 (spanning 17 games). The Bulldogs are 3-4-1 ATS in that role and 3-6-1 ATS in non-conference games.

The 152.5 total is the highest of Wright State’s last 30 games, and it’s the third-highest projected total for any Raiders game in 2021-22. The Over cashed in the other two games the teams played with higher totals. Those results came within the first five games of the season against Marshall and James Madison.

The Over is 6-2 in the schools’ previous eight games, while the Under has cashed in Bryant’s last four.

Wright State vs. Bryant Picks

  • Wright State -1.5 (-110) ★★
  • Over 152.5 (-110) ★★★★

SEE ALSO: March Madness Odds and Picks

Wright State vs. Bryant Predictions

Wright State -1.5 (-110)

How will Bryant handle its first NCAA Tournament appearance? Not only is this clash the biggest game in school history, but it could feel like a true road game. Wright State’s campus is only 15 minutes away from Dayton’s arena.

Wright State doesn’t get much time to prepare for Bryant’s zone defense that morphs between a two-three and a one-three-one. The Bulldogs utilized that approach to rank among the top 10 nationally.

However, the Raiders finished the season with the second-highest percentage of zone defenses faced, so their offense should be well-equipped for the Bulldogs. Wright State’s zone offense wasn’t the most efficient in 2021-22, but the unit still ranks among the top third nationally in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric.

That’s why it’s wise to lean toward the Raiders as slight favorites in what should feel like a home environment. They’re prepared for this matchup after facing several teams in their league that utilize a similar syle of play.

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Over 152.5 (-110)

Bryant wants to play this game at breakneck speed, as it ranks seventh nationally in adjusted tempo. The Bulldogs rank 44th in the country in the percentage of their shot attempts that come from 3-point range. But they’ll also attack the rim with Kiss and fellow backcourt mate Charles Pride. Wright State ranks 262nd in adjusted defensive efficiency and has been struggling to limit dribble penetration, a concern when facing Bryant.

Hall Elisias, one of the country’s best shot-blockers, anchors Bryant’s zone. He recorded eight blocks during the NEC Championship Game against Wagner. However, big men who can face up and attack him have given Elisias problems in 2021-22, and that’s a significant part of Grant Basile’s game. And while Wright State’s zone offense struggled earlier in the season, the Raiders are averaging better than one point over their last 250 zone possessions.

There’s a path to offensive success for both teams, as each squad is built to attack the opposition’s defensive vulnerabilities.

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Wright State-Bryant picks made 3/14/2022 at 9:51 a.m. ET.