Rhode Island Rams at Pittsburgh Panthers
Monday, 11/8/10, 7:00 PM EST; TV: ESPNU
Opening Point Spread: Pittsburgh -10.5
Current Betting Line: Pittsburgh -11
Opening Total: 136
Current Total: 136.5
Rhode Island opens its season on one of the toughest courts in college basketball and will be looking to end a five-game skid against Pittsburgh on Monday night. The Rams will not be intimidated due to winning 89 games over the past four years, with never less than 19 in a season over that span. “My big think is the last three years we’ve graduated seven starters,” said head coach Jim Baron. “That’s a whole lot. We’ve won a lot, but our biggest concern is who is stepping in and stepping up to fill those spots.” The team is 20-46 all-time versus opponents from the Big East and under Baron, Rhode Island is a respectable 9-11 against the formidable conference. Even though this is a step up in class, this squad can’t be discounted, brining in a 50-19 record versus out-of-conference opponents since 2006-07. The team is 8-8 ATS as an underdog over the last three years and the college basketball lines is now available.
The Rams were unable to make the NCAA Tournament due to a 9-7 Atlantic 10 record, but the squad did reach the semifinals of the NIT. With 10 players back and a talented three-man incoming class, the team should be able to matchup well with opponents. In its 103 previous season openers, Rhode Island has posted an outstanding 83-20 winning percentage. Expect shooting guard Akeem Richmond to be a major player in this contest, hitting 81 three-pointers as a reserve a year ago, becoming just the third freshman in the history of the Atlantic 10 to connect on more than 80.
Pittsburgh opens its 104th season of men’s basketball and the entire college basketball season on Monday. The Panthers are coming off a 25-9 season and finished tied for second in the Big East despite being picked to finish ninth. “People didn’t think much about us last year and we finished second in the conference,” said senior forward Gilbert Brown. “But that doesn’t change anything. We have high expectations.” A win over Rhode Island would give Pitt its 14th consecutive season opening victory since the 1997 season. The program enters the game with a 70-33 all-time record in 103 season openers. Pittsburgh is 34-25 ATS over the last three campaigns.
The Panthers have quietly become one of the best teams in the country since the turn of the century. Over the past nine years, the Panthers are 245-65 and have reached one Elite Eight and five Sweet 16s. Pittsburgh returns four starters and sixth man Gilbert Brown, as well as former McDonald’s All-American Dante Taylor. They enjoy a homecourt advantage that simply can’t be overstated, posting a 132-11 record in the history of the Petersen Events Center.
Bettors will find that the Rams are 2-5 ATS in their last seven road games, while the Panthers are 6-0-1 ATS on Mondays.