NEC Ball Screen: 1/29/22 & 1/30/22
Up here in the northeast we're dealing with a major nor'easter today. Because of that, three of the five originally scheduled games for Saturday have been postponed to Sunday, while Sacred Heart at Merrimack is waiting for a make-up date. The only matchup set to go off as scheduled is down in Emmitsburg.
This weekend's games (All games can be seen via NEC FrontRow):
St. Francis (PA) at Mount St. Mary's, 5pm Saturday
Long Island at Bryant, 1pm Sunday
Central Connecticut at Fairleigh Dickinson, 1pm Sunday
Wagner at St. Francis-Brooklyn, 2pm Sunday
SFU at MSMU
Not a surprise; the Mount has the league's most efficient defense in NEC play (92.3 points/100 possessions). However, what is a surprise is that Rob Krimmel's Red Flash have the NEC's least efficient offense at just 92.1 points/100 possessions. SFU has the lowest eFG% (46.4%), but that's only compounded by a turnover issue (20.5%, 8t) and an inability to make free throws (59.7%, 10th). What's more; 58.6% of their points come inside the arc and, well, good luck getting points in the paint against this Mount defense. Josh Cohen and Myles Thompson have been good, at least when they are on the floor, but the backcourt will have to be good today. On the other side of the ball; the Mount is going to run a P&R heavy offense and SFU has had issues defending ball screens in league play.
LIU at BU
This game lost a bit of its luster after Long Island dropped a game at CCSU on Thursday night. As things stand now Bryant is 3-games up on both LIU and Mount St. Mary's for 2nd place. The Bulldogs are absolutely rolling, and their offense is clicking in just about every facet. While they're still not making a ton of 3's, just 32.2% in league play, they've been better of late making 34.4% of their current 5 game winning streak. While that difference doesn't seem like much, it does when you consider the fact that 43.6% of their shot attempts come from beyond the arc, which is tops in the league. Long Island is allowing league opponents to make 37.9% of their 3s, which is worst in the NEC. However, that may be a bit of a mirage; according to Shot Quality, they're allowing 0.99 SQPPP on catch & shoot 3s (best in the league) and 0.86 SQ PPP on off the dribble 3s. One thing to keep an eye on; Hall Elisias injured his knee after an alley-oop dunk in the 2nd half of Bryant's win over Merrimack on Thursday; he was clearly in pain and couldn't get up and down the court. Greg Calixte is an adequate replacement if Elisias is out, but there's not another player on this roster taller than 6'5".
CCSU at FDU
The two youngest squads in the Northeast Conference, both teams seem to be figuring things out on the court. Fairleigh Dickinson is just 1-5 in league play but they haven't played poorly; they lost to St. Francis-Brooklyn by just two, then played LIU close at home before ultimately falling 79-75. In fact, on an adjusted basis, FDU has been the 7th best team in the league during conference play. While the Fairleigh Dickinson interior defense has been porous (they're allowing 55.3% inside the arc), they've done a nice job defending the three, limiting opponents to just 29.9% from deep in league play. Central Connecticut, which is coming off a home win over LIU after falling behind 29-10, gets 37.1% of their points from beyond the arc, which is tops in the NEC. Part of that is solid 3P shooting (37.5%), and part of that is an inability to get to, and finish at, the rim. Watch the matchup at the '5' in this one, as it features a pair of likely All-NEC Rookie teamers who could be major factors in this league for a long time. FDU's Anquan Hill has come on strong of late, averaging 14.7 points and 9 rebounds per game in his last three outings. Jayden Brown, CCSU's starting 5, had scuffled after returning from covid, but has put up 8.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in his last two games.
WC at SFC
Remember when I was all-in on the St. Francis-Brooklyn defense? Yeah, sorry about that. The Terriers have rebounded the ball well, but that's about it. Particularly concerning for this game is that 55.5% allowed on 2-pointers (10th in the league) and 6.1% block rate (9th); there's very little rim protection. We all know how good Wagner is; do the Terriers have a shot in this one? Glenn Braica likes to isolate Michael Cubbage quite a bit offensively and on Thursday it paid off as the 6'4" wing scored 21 points on 9 of 13 shooting and chipped in 4 assists. St. Francis-Brooklyn likely needs big games from Cubbage and Patrick Emilien, and needs someone like Tedrick Wilcox and/or Larry Moreno get hot from deep.
NEC Worst Bets
Season Record: 30-35
My "leans" are recorded below. I'll0 post any official bets to my Twitter feed.
1) Mount St. Mary's (-6.5) vs. St. Francis (PA)
I like the way the Mount is playing right now, and without Ronell Giles the Red Flash offense doesn't have a lot of options. Will they be able to get offense at the rim? If Malik Jefferson remains out there may be more opportunities to get buckets in the paint, but I still think it will be tough sledding for SFU.
2) Central Connecticut (+2.5) at Fairleigh Dickinson
3) CCSU at FDU, under 138
CCSU has covered in 3 of their last 4 games, and haven't hit on the 'over' since 12/29. While the offense still remains inconsistent (at best), Sellers has this defense playing well. Tre Mitchell should make things difficult for Brandon Rush this afternoon.
4) Bryant (-6.5) vs. Long Island
No NEC team is playing better than Bryant, and I just can't trust this LIU squad right now. I'll hold off until I see if Hall Elisias is in the lineup or not. If not then all bets are off, as I'd be worried about that massive LIU frontline.
5) Wagner (-9.5) at St. Francis-Brooklyn
The Seahawks should score inside at will against the Terriers. This is a scary number, however, and I will likely wait to see if it comes down at al.