NEC Daily Ball Screen: 11/26/21

After a day free of NEC hoops, we're back with a two-game slate; Bryant heads across town to talk on a Brown team that has showed well in the early going, while St. Francis-Brooklyn is down in Destin, FL to take part in the Emerald Coast Classic. Today the Terriers get McNeese St., followed by either Samford or North Carolina A&T tomorrow. Bryant can be seen on ESPN+ at 2pm, while you'll have to dig around the interwebs to find the Emerald Coast Classic.


Some things to watch today:


1) How much does Brown get from Tamenang Choh today? The 6'5" do-everything forward is a 2x 2nd team All-Ivy player, and averaged 13.4 points, 8.3 boards, and 3.1 assists per game for the Bears in 2019-20 (remember, the Ivy didn't play last season). However, Choh is working his way back from a hip injury that kept him out of Brown's first two games, and while he's played in the last three (losses to Creighton and Colorado, a win over Bradley), he's been largely ineffective; 7.3 ppg on 6 of 28 from the field, including just 3 of 18 inside the arc.


2) Kiss = Braxton 2.0? A few seasons ago, St. Francis (PA) coach Rob Krimmel installed star wing Keith Braxton as his point guard after Jamaal King graduated, and it nearly won the Red Flash an NEC title (they finished 13-5 in the league that year, losing at Robert Morris in the title game 77-67). Tyler Brelsford was the incumbent at point guard this season, but has seen his minutes decline each game; from 37 minutes on opening night at URI to just 11 in the Bulldogs' win over Holy Cross on Sunday. In that one, Kiss and forward Luis Hurtado shared ball-handling duties to start, and while Bryant's All-NEC wing did score 35 points, he also turned it over 7 times.


3) Can SFC defend the interior? So far this season, St. Francis-Brooklyn is allowing teams to shoot over 59% on 2-pointers this season, 341st nationally. Sure, they've played some stiff competition (Wisconsin, Penn St., and St. John's), but St. Thomas did make 20 of 30 from inside the arc. Glenn Braica doesn't have any rim protectors to speak of; Jack Hemphill and Vuk Stevanic are the only players with a block rate better than 1.5%, though Braica has opted to go with smaller lineups so far this season and kept both of his big guys on the bench for large stretches. McNeese St., a Southland team, brought in 5 D1 transfers this season, including 6'5" big wing Myles Lewis, who averaged close to 10 points and 7.5 boards for VMI last season, (shooting 63% at the rim). 7'1" VCU transfer Brendan Medley-Bacon, who averaged 7.4 points and 8.7 boards for Coppin St. two seasons ago, could also cause issues inside.


4) Can Emilien keep it going? The Western Michigan transfer appears to have settled in quickly in Brooklyn; he's scored in double-figures in three of his four games (12.8 ppg), and is coming off his first collegiate double-double at St. John's (12 points, 12 boards). Stepping down a level, the 6'7" "big wing" has seen nearly all of his metrics tick up a bit, and has been more efficient despite seeing a larger role in the offense than he's used to (20.2% usage compared to 16.7% a season ago). However, he's just 1 for 6 from three this season after making 32.6% in 2020-21. If he can get the jump shot going a bit, he could be primed for a big season.


Best Bets

It's been a struggle for me of late; I took the over 141.5 the other day when FDU travel to NJIT, and they didn't even come close (116).


A reminder; this is not gambling or financial advice, and I'm not suggesting anyone copy me. These are my bets, and my bets only.


Season Record: 8-8


Today's Bets: Bryant (+4.5) at Brown


I'm going nowhere near St. Francis-McNeese; between the two of them, they've played just one D1 mid-major game (SFC's loss to St. Thomas). It's hard to gauge either squad, and while I'm tempted to take the under 145.5, I'm going to stick with what I know. Which is Bryant, and Brown to a lesser extent.


The projection systems are all over the map with this one; Kenpom has Brown -5 (which matches Fanduel), while both Torvik and Haslametrics has Bryant winning this one. Huh?


Brown's looked good in the early going; they hung with North Carolina (without Choh) back on 11/12 before losing 94-87, and on Monday they nearly beat Colorado, losing 54-52. They've also beaten Central Connecticut and Bradley. Ivy League title contenders?


However, let's not lose sight of what we thought Bryant would be; yours truly had the Bulldogs #1 in my pre-season rankings, and while I think Wagner has moved past the Bulldogs so far this year, I'm not ready to give up on Bryant because of one bad 40-minute basketball game last Saturday in a loss to Bethune-Cookman. Bryant responded with a dominant defensive performance in a 78-62 win over Holy Cross on Sunday, and you know Jared Grasso won't stand for another performance like the one against BCU.


I'll take Bryant +4.5 points, as the Bulldogs win this one straight up.