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NEC Daily Ball Screen: 12/21/21

Can anything slow down Wagner? They bounced back perfectly find from a covid pause, then after not playing a D1 game for 12 days due to final exams, the Seahawks went out and absolutely destroyed a bad Delaware St. team 93-51.

Wagner winning the game was expected; DSU is ranked #357 at Kenpom, and the Seahawks, which were playing at home, were favored by 22+ points. However, it's safe to say that WC exceeded expectations in this one.

Alex Morales went for 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists in 24 minutes, DeLonnie Hunt had 17 points (4 of 7 from three), and Raekwon Rogers was 5 for 6 from the field (14 points) in just 18 minutes as Wagner scored 1.19ppp, largely thanks to making 12 of 28 from downtown and getting to the free throw line 38 times (making 28).

Freshman Zaire Williams made an early bid for NEC Rookie of the Week, scoring 14 points, including 3 of 8 from three, in 25 minutes. Will Martinez added 11 points, 7 boards, and 5 assists in 24 minutes off the bench.

How dominant has Wagner been? They've played just 6 D1 games, and per Bart Torvik's Game Score, the Seahawks have had the 3 best performances by NEC games, and 4 of the top 9. To put it in perspective, their 4th best Game Score is better than four programs' (SHU, Mount, CCSU, FDU) best game.

The Hornets managed just 0.65ppp, as they shot 2 of 15 from three, turned it over 23 times (29.5%), and grabbed just 3 offensive boards.

The Wagner win sets up a huge matchup on Thursday between the Seahawks and MAAC-contender Fairfield at Webster Bank Arena.

Today's Game

Merrimack at Maine, 5pm, ESPN3

Merrimack is riding a five-game losing streak, but looks can be deceiving. The Warriors should have won the first two games in this streak; they had an 89.4% win probability at Boston U., up 58-52 with 3 minutes left. Then, in their next game, they were up 35-21 in the 1st half at home against UMass-Lowell, with a 92.5% win probability. Also included in this 5-game slide were two losses at top 30 Kenpom teams, Gonzaga and Indiana.

UMaine, according to Kenpom, has one of the nation's worst offenses, with an Adj. OE ranked 356th nationally. They're making just 20.7% from three, and have turned it over on 24.5% of their offensive possessions. The Black Bears have lost all 6 D1 games, including at home to Central Connecticut back on 11/23. We all know Joe Gallo's defense is going to force turnovers, and while opposing bigs have had some level of success against Merrimack this season, Maine's frontcourt players have been largely ineffective. It's worth noting that the Black Bears have been without 6'9" big Stephane Ingo over the last three games. A 4th year player, Ingo provides size, experience, and rebounding ability.

Best Bets

Season Record: 16-19

Today's Bet: 1) Merrimack (-8.5) at Maine; 2) MC at Maine, under 113.5

Quite frankly, I wish the spread was more in-line with Kenpom (Merrimack -5), however if you believe in the Warriors like I do, then they should be able to beat a bad Maine squad by 10+ points. The Black Bears have lost all of their D1 games, and their lone loss by less than 10 points was at home against CCSU. Combine that with the fact that their achilles heel has been turnovers, and I could see Maine putting up incredibly ugly offensive numbers.

As for the under; that's a tiny number, but Merrimack has been inconsistent offensively, and Maine does have plenty of size that could slow down Jordan Minor. Given that both schools like to play at a snails pace (both have an average possession length of 19.1 seconds, which are among the slowest in the nation) and struggle to make shots, I could see this game ending up something like 55-45.

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