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NEC Daily Ball Screen: 1/8/22

A reminder; Sacred Heart's game at Wagner has been canceled (SHU forfeit), as has FDU's home tilt with Bryant (FDU forfeit).

Today's Games (All games can be seen on NEC FrontRow):

Merrimack at Central Connecticut, 1pm

St. Francis (PA) at Long Island, 2pm

Mount St. Mary's at St. Francis-Brooklyn, 4pm


Both teams picked up wins via forfeit on Thursday night, and should be well-rested on Saturday afternoon. The concern if you're CCSU; Patrick Sellers has never seen this Merrimack zone defense in person, and it can be difficult to prepare for. The Warriors are forcing turnovers on 24.1% of their defensive possessions (22nd nationally), and if they can use that to get out in transition where they are scoring 0.99ppp, that could be problematic. Teams have been able to beat Merrimack on that end of the floor when they can hit the offensive boards in a big way; Long Island grabbed 45.8% of their misses last Friday, while St. Francis-Brooklyn put up a 47.4% OR% in the NEC opener. In fact, Merrimack is allowing teams to grab nearly 39% of their misses, which is 355th nationally. I'm not sure CCSU is built to capitalize, however; their OR% is just 23.2% (313th). Sellers will need big games out of his freshman frontcourt of Jayden Brown and Andre Snoddy.


As I wrote yesterday, Long Island has been a different team at the Steinberg Wellness Center. While there are plenty of good frontcourt players on both sides of the ball (especially if Josh Cohen is back), I'm most interested in the point guard battle; LIU's Tre Wood is coming off a nice game; 12 points, 4 assists, 0 turnovers in 32 minutes against Mount St. Mary's. After some turnover struggles early in the season, since 11/27 he's had 41 assists against just 14 turnovers. If he can take care of the basketball and hit an open three (he's made 4 of his last 13), that'll go a long way. On the flip side; Ramiir Dixon-Conover has shot 30% from the field over his last 3 games, including 2 of 8 from three, and has had as many turnovers as assists (10). He did have 14 points and 3 assists (1 turnover) on Thursday night, and it'd be nice to see him build off that.


In three NEC games, the Terriers have made a little over 35% of their 3P attempts, with 40% of their field goal attempts coming from beyond the arc. Sure, part of that is the fact that neither Michael Cubbage nor Patrick Emilien were available in their two games last week, but SFC does like to shoot the three, especially with guys like Tedrick Wilcox (24 of 48), Larry Moreno (24 of 6), and Rob Higgins (13 of 39). Moreno wasn't available on Thursday night, so it's doubtful he'll be back on Saturday. The Mount, simply put, won't allow good looks from deep; per Shot Quality, Dan Engelstad's defense is among the top 25 teams in the nation in both catch & shoot, and off the dribble, 3P defense. On the season, SFC is making just 45.6% of its two-point attempts, and Bahaide Haidara, who has made 58% of his 2-point attempts, is another guy who was not available on Thursday. If the Terriers fall behind and need three-pointers, good luck getting a good look.

NEC Worst Bets

Season Record: 18-28

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) Merrimack (-4.5) at Central Connecticut

Even if CCSU is back to full-time health, guys like Nigel Scantlebury, Jayden Brown, and Tre Mitchell haven't played in a game since 12/18; that's a long lay-off. Combine that with Sellers' first look at Gallo's zone defense, and a young frontcourt, I think this will be a tough one for the Blue Devils, who will play this one without a home crowd. Ideally this number would come down a bit.

2) Merrimack at Central Connecticut, under 126.5

I'm not buying Merrimack's offensive breakout just yet, and as I wrote above, I think CCSU will have major issues with this zone.

3) St. Francis (PA) at Long Island (-6.5)

It's not just three games; let's not forget, after a solid non-conference season last year, the Red Flash were just 5-13 in the NEC. What's more; SFU has failed to cover in each of their last 4 games, losing three of those games despite being favored. Tre Wood has been playing better, and LIU has been really good at home.

4) Mount St. Mary's at St. Francis-Brooklyn (-1.5)

SFC has been solid when Cubbage and Emilien are on the floor, while I just don't like what I'm seeing from the Mount right now. These teams are probably evenly matched, but give me the home team -1.5.

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