NEC Daily Ball Screen: 1/6/22
Another week, another pair of cancelations. Last week it was Mount St. Mary's, which had to forfeit two home games. Now it's Fairleigh Dickinson doing the same, as both games scheduled to be played at the Rothman Center (Thurs vs. Merrimack, Saturday vs. Bryant) have been banged due to covid.
Today's Games (all games can be seen on NEC FrontRow):
Bryant at Wagner, 7pm, SNY/ESPN3
Sacred Heart at Central Connecticut, 7pm
Mount St. Mary's at Long Island, 7pm
St. Francis (PA) at St. Francis-Brooklyn, 7pm
**Canceled: Merrimack at Fairleigh Dickinson; FDU forfeits
BU at WC
The "Game of the Night' as far as the NEC is concerned, Wagner is looking to keep things rolling. Or are they? One of my favorite analytic sites, Shot Quality, attempts to capture the shots teams take (or allow), and the probability that those shots are made, rather than looking at what actually happened. TLDR; it cares more about the process than the results. Well; Shot Quality doesn't love Wagner, or at least, it thinks they've been lucky offensively:
Despite having an offense that ranks 165th nationally in terms of Adj. OE (rarified air for an NEC school), and an eFG% that's in the top 130, Shot Quality thinks that Wagner has out-performed based on the peripheral data. Let's compare the two schools:
Overall, Shot Quality believes that Bryant's had the better offense overall, with expected positive regression coming nearly all shot-types, including 3-pointers (28% 3P%, expected FG% of 31%) and in the mid-range (actual 34%, expected 37%). Wagner is the complete opposite; SQ believes they're finishing ~3% better at the rim than expected, shooting ~4% better in the mid-range, and 9% better than expected on post-ups. If you're a Bryant fan, you're hoping the regression starts on both sides on Thursday night on Staten Island.
SHU at CCSU
Note: While I have zero inside knowledge, I'm going to assume Central Connecticut is back to full strength on Thursday night. Based on the CDC guidance, assuming the players were asymptomatic, then they should be back. If that's not the case, obviously their individual health is the most important thing here.
When the Blue Devils have struggled defensively, it's been largely due to opposing bigs; CCSU has an average height of 75.1", which is 353rd nationally according to Kenpom. But it's not just a general lack of size; while Patrick Sellers has an experienced backcourt, the forwards are young; starting '5' Jayden Brown, while 6'9" and talented, is a freshman, as is starting '4' Andre Snoddy, as well as his backup Trenton McLaughlin. On the season, the Blue Devils are allowing teams to make 55.1% of their 2s, and have a 5.8% block rate, both of which are outside the top 310 nationally. However, Sacred Heart has some similar size issues; Latina generally starts a pair of 6'6" versatile forwards in Nico Galette and Bryce Johnson, though last week heavily used 6'7" 210 lb. Cantavio Dutreil. Rather than forcing it inside, the Pios like to shoot the ball from the perimeter; 42.3% of their field goals come from the beyond the arc, and they're making 33.6%. If Central Connecticut can limit the good looks, especially by keeping Aaron Clarke and Tyler Thomas out of the lane, it could be a good night for the Blue Devil faithful at Detrick Gym.
MSMU at LIU
Mount St. Mary's runs a very ball-screen heavy offense with PG Jalen Benjamin as the catalyst, trying to exploit their versatility in switches. I went back and watched LIU's game against Sacred Heart last week, and one thing I noticed; Derek Kellogg doesn't prefer to switch those ball screens. What's more; LIU has the versatile forwards in Eral Penn and Ty Flowers to match up with the Mount's Mezie Offurum and Nana Opoku. The big question for LIU will be; can they get out in transition? The Mount is disciplined defensively and don't give up much in transition. Points may be at a premium in this one.
SFU at SFC
Note: Similar to CCSU, I'm assuming SFC's missing players are back for tonight's game.
As I wrote in my Non-Conference recap last week, the Terriers were really defending in December; playing with a smaller, more versatile lineup, SFC starting forcing turnovers at a high clip and forcing bad shots. However, last week's two losses featured St. Francis-Brooklyn playing without its two leading scorers in Michael Cubbage and Patrick Emilien. But it wasn't just the scoring Glenn Braica missed, those two guys are the keys to their versatility on defense; Emilien is a 6'7" forward who can defend 2 through 5, while Cubbage, at 6'4" 185 lbs., has the quickness to guard perimeter players, and is physical enough to rebound at a high clip (22.4% DR%) while leading the league with a 5% steal rate. Last week, both Wagner and FDU caused the Red Flash's best player, Ramiir Dixon-Conover, fits in limiting him to just 6 ppg. Look for Glenn Braica to try and do the same.
NEC Worst Bets
Yes, I've changed the name, but I'm still committed to the bit.
Last Saturday I went 0-4 on my NEC bets, and am now 0-7 in NEC on NEC action. How is that even possible for someone who pays as much attention to the league as I do? Sports gambling, man; there's a reason why you've never met a broke bookie, I guess.
Season Record: 17-27
My "leans" are recorded below. I'll post any official bets to Twitter. Feel free to fade whatever it is I do. I won't be offended.
1) Sacred Heart at Central Connecticut (+4)
The Blue Devils are playing well, and as of right now I expect them to be, at least, near full-strength tonight. I'd probably wait to see what the lineups look like, but if Nigel Scantlebury and Jayden Brown are back in the starting 5, I'd jump all over CCSU, despite playing this one without a crowd. I think the Pios win this one, but the Blue Devils cover the 4.
2) Bryant (+7.5) at Wagner
Again, I like the underdog in this one. I think Wagner is the better team, but I also think that Wagner isn't quite as good as their record, while Bryant is better than what they are currently rated by the computers. I don't love this 7.5 number, but if it creeps up at all (I wouldn't be shocked to see it get near double-digits), I'd pounce on the Bulldogs.
3) Mount St. Mary's at Long Island (-4.5)
I've had bad luck betting the Sharks, and they didn't cover in either game last week. With that said; the Mount hasn't played a game since 12/18, and they don't exactly have a deep bench.