NEC Daily Ball Screen: 11/30/21
Four games featuring NEC games tonight. According to Kenpom, Northeast Conference teams should win ~1.2 games tonight. Let's get two, shall we?
Long Island at Delaware, 7pm, FloHoops
Fairleigh Dickinson at Manhattan, 7pm, ESPN3
Howard at Mount St. Mary's, 7pm, NEC FrontRow
Sacred Heart at NJIT, 7pm, ESPN3
Things to Watch
1) Can the LIU offense stay hot? In last week's 99-65 win over Delaware St., the Sharks sored 1.32ppp, thanks in large part to crashing the offensive glass and limiting turnovers. However, their season best before that was just 0.89ppp as they've really struggled to take care of the basketball and get to the rim. Did Derek Kellogg fix something, or was the explosion thanks to a Delaware St. team that has the 353rd ranked Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, according to Bart Torvik? Delaware has a high-powered offense that is led by 4 double-digit scorers, all of whom can create and shoot. If LIU is going to win this one, they're going to have to keep up.
2) Points should be hard to come by Tuesday night in Draddy Gym. Manhattan, which is 4-1 with their lone loss coming on the road to Old Dominion, has held three of their 4 D1 opponents below 0.94ppp, and they want to slow the tempo into the low-to-mid 60s. FDU finally got a big offensive performance on Sunday, but Princeton is a different animal; the Tigers want to get up and down the floor. Can the Knights score in the half-court? This is where not having an experienced, pure PG can cause problems.
3) Howard comes to Emmitsburg 2-2 against D1 competition, including wins over William & Mary and Bradley. However, the Bison have been without two key players; 6'7" forward Dontarius James, who averaged 17.5 ppg for Jacksonville St. last season, and PG Khalil Robinson, who was injured against non-D1 Regent College, but did return to play 4 minutes last week in a loss to Austin Peay. In Robinson's absence, Howard has been playing freshman PG Elijah Hawkins, who has a 40% assist rate. James is waiting for an NCAA appeal to rule him eligible, from what I understand. Despite missing those players, the Bison are shooting 40% from three.
4) Can Sacred Heart create good looks? NJIT has held opponents to a 43.2% eFG%, which ranks 28th nationally, and is generally good at taking good shots away all over the floor. In SHU's tough loss at Stony Brook last week, the Pios were able to get a lot done at the rim (23 of 33), and really benefitted from Aaron Clarke's ability to penetrate. The Highlanders have held teams to an America East-best 45% at the rim, holding St. John's to 24 of 50 on 2-pointers in an overtime loss. One thing to note; against the Red Storm, Brian Gregory went small, with 6'9" Souleymane Diakite getting just 6 minutes of run after starting all of the previous games.
Season Record: 10-8
Today's Bets: 1) LIU at Delaware (over 150.5); 2) Howard (ML +168) at Mount St. Mary's; 3) FDU at Manhattan (under 136.5)
Lots of movement in the lines this morning, but I'm sticking to my guns here.
Let's start off in Delaware; as I wrote above, the Blue Hens score the basketball efficiently. However, what I didn't mention was; they don't defend. In 7 games so far, they've held opponents to under 1.04ppp just twice; Siena and Fordham. Long Island broke out in a big way over the weekend, and I'd like to think that the turnover issues that have plagued the Sharks won't be a much of an issue tonight. These two will get up and down the floor and put up points.
Kenpom as the Mount as 1-point underdogs, yet Fanduel has the Mount -4.5. We won't know until closer to tip-off what's the deal with Howard's Dontarius James and Elijah Hawkins, but still; I'm fading the Mount. As I wrote in my Mid-Range Jumper, I need to see more from them defensively before I start buying this team. Long-term I trust Dan Engelstad; he will get things clicking, especially on the defensive side of the ball. But early in the season I need to see more. When I woke up this morning, Mount St. Mary's was -2.5 and I liked the line. However, -4.5 is a little rich for my liking, and with a ML of +168 there's value in taking Howard.
And finally; I liked the Manhattan-FDU o/u of 138.5 from earlier this morning a lot more, but still; there just won't be a lot of points scored. The Knights were able to get out in transition against Princeton, but that won't be the case tonight; can they score in the half-court? The Jaspers have long struggled offensively under Steve Masiello, and that continues to be the case. I don't see this one getting into the 70s.