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NEC Daily Ball Screen: 12/18/21

Today's Games

St. Francis (PA) at Illinois, 1pm, B1G Network

Hartford at Central Connecticut, 1pm, NEC FrontRow

Fairleigh Dickinson at Virginia, 2pm, ACC Network

Morgan St. at Mount St. Mary's, 4pm, NEC FrontRow

Things to Watch:

SFU at Illinois

To what extend can the Red Flash contain Illinois big man Kofi Cockburn? The 7'0", 285 lb. Cockburn leads the Illini with 21.4 points and 12 rebounds per game, is shooting 60.2% from the field, and has already gotten to the free throw line 55 times in 7 games. Mark Flagg and Josh Cohen are both very good NEC bigs, but Cockburn is a different animal. If SFU can't keep the ball out of the middle, it could be a long afternoon.

UHart at CCSU

Will there be any defense in this game? CCSU's 109.5 Adjusted DE is ranked 332nd nationally, while Hartford's 113.5 is 348th. For the Blue Devils, the issue has been largely centered around an inability to protect the rim; their 5.1% block rate ranks 332nd in the country, and they've allowed opponents to shoot 65.4% on ""close 2''s". For the Hawks; an inability to apply ball pressure (just 14.7% turnover rate) has hurt them, as has an unsustainable 44.5% FG% allowed on mid-range jumpers.


Tony Bennett doesn't have the roster quality that he's had in recent years, as Virginia has taken losses to Navy and James Madison, as well as Houston and Radford. However, let's not get it twisted; in three games against sub-200 Kenpom teams, the Cavaliers' average margin of victory was 18.3 points. Virginia is led by a couple of high-quality transfers who do their damage inside; Jayden Gardner (East Carolina) and Armaan Franklin (Indiana). Gardner, a 6'6" wing, is shooting 58% on 2-pointers, and has gotten to the free throw line 39 times in 10 games (making 74.4%). Franklin, a 6'4" wing, is making nearly 59% of his twos. Keep those two out of the paint and make UVA beat you from outside, where they're shooting just 30.2% as a team, and FDU has a shot to keep this close for awhile. But that could be a tall task.

Morgan St. at Mount

Morgan St. is just 1-6 against D1 teams, with their lone win over Kenpom #331 Hampton on a neutral court. However, the one thing the Bears do a good job at is forcing turnovers (22.9%, 40th nationally); head coach Kelvin Broadus wants to pressure the ball in order to turn opponents over and push the pace. Well, the Mount hasn't exactly done a great job protecting the ball, coughing it up on over 21% of their possessions. Dan Engelstad's three primary ball-handlers (Jalen Benjamin, Deandre Thomas, and Dakota Leffew) all have turnover rates north of 20%. However, Mount St. Mary's has been better of late; over their last three games, they've turned it over on just 13.4% of their possessions. Benjamin, in particular, seems to be settling into his role as a high-usage lead guard, and over his last 5 games he has 19 assists against just 9 turnovers.

Best Bets

Season Record: 15-18

Today's Bet: Hartford at Central Connecticut (+4.5)

Hartford may have the more talented and experienced roster, but this game is in Detrick Gym, 4.5 points feels like a lot. Plus; Hartford is just 3-7 against the spread this season, while CCSU is 6-5. I know UHart's Jared Kimbrough is back, but this spread feels like it still has the Hawks' lofty pre-season expectations baked in. For what it's worth, Torvik has the Blue Devils favored by '1'.

I'm not sure if Central gets its 3rd win of the season today, but it should be a 1-possession game either way.

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