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March Madness

Wright State favored to claim first NCAA Tournament victory

The First Four matchup between #16 seeds Wright State and visiting Bryant on Wednesday will be a battle between a team with little NCAA Tournament history, and a team with no history at all.

Wright State (21-13) will be making its fourth NCAA appearance. The Raiders are winless in three previous trips, with the latest being a 73-47 first-round loss to Tennessee as a #14 seed in 2018.

They are favored to break through on Wednesday night as 3.5-point favorites over Bryant. However, the action has been split at DraftKings with Bryant backed by 65 percent of the bets but Wright State drawing 59 percent of the spread-line money.

Despite winning its last five games and capturing the Horizon League title by beating top seed Cleveland State in a semifinal and Northern Kentucky in the championship, Wright State landed in the First Four.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the Raiders will have a home advantage playing in Dayton, Ohio.

“I don’t like being a #16 seed,” Wright State coach Scott Nagy told the Dayton Daily News. “Obviously, every seed lower just makes it much more difficult to win. But I thought we were going to be a 16. I like the fact we’re playing in Dayton and can get some of the jitters out and maybe win. Hopefully, all these Dayton fans will cheer us.”

Wright State is led by a three-headed monster offensively in Tanner Holden (19.8 points per game.), Grant Basile (18.5) and Trey Calvin (14.3).

On the other side, Bryant made the Division I bracket for the first time ever.

The last time Bryant played in an NCAA Tournament was when it was a Division II program in 2008.

The Bulldogs (22-9) are coming off a 70-43 rout of Wagner in the Northeast Conference title game and have won 16 of their last 17 games.

“Because of the fact we both finished early, I think this game was locked in for a while,” Bryant coach Jared Grasso told the Providence Journal. “So my gut feeling was that this would be locked in, so we had a scout locked in already.

“We haven’t finished our preparation, but we know enough about (Wright State’s) style that we have a pretty good idea what they’re about. They’re a good team. They’re big, they’re physical. We have our work cut out for us, but we’re going to compete like we have all year. I know our guys will go hard and be excited.”

Bryant is led in scoring by Peter Kiss (25.1) and Charles Pride (18.0).

The winner advances to play top-seeded Arizona in a first-round South region game in San Diego on Friday.


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