NEC Forecaster: Week 3
Every week I will go through the NEC schedule (D1 games only; games against non-D1s don't exist in my world) and highlight some games to watch. As always, point spreads are per Kenpom.
All NEC home games can be found on NEC Front Row.
Sacred Heart (+7) at Stony Brook, 6:31pm, ESPN3
Mount St. Mary's (+15) at Ohio, 7pm, ESPN3
Central Connecticut (+6) at Maine, 7pm, ESPN+
Long Island (+10) at Saint Peter's, 7pm, ESPN3
Hartford at Merrimack (-4), 7pm
St. Francis-Brooklyn (+27) at St. John's, 7pm, FS2
Fairleigh Dickinson (+8) at NJIT, 2pm, ESPN+
St. Francis (PA) (+3) at Cornell, 4pm, ESPN+
Wagner (-1) at Army, 4pm
Bryant (+3) at Brown, 2pm, NESN
St. Francis-Brooklyn (+1) vs. McNeese St. at Emerald Coast Classic (Destin, FL), 11am
St. Francis-Brooklyn vs. Samford/North Carolina A&T at Emerald Coast Classic (Destin, FL)
Navy at Mount St. Mary's (+5), 2pm
Delaware St. vs. Long Island (-12), 2pm
Dartmouth at Bryant (-4), 4pm
Fordham at Central Connecticut (+6), 1pm
Merrimack (+6) at Boston U., 1pm, ESPN+
St. Francis (PA) (+1) at Lehigh, 7PM, ESPN+
Fairleigh Dickinson (+14) at Princeton, 4pm, ESPN+
Games to Watch
Sacred Heart at Stony Brook, 11/22
Stony Brook came into the season expected to compete with Vermont (and others) for the America East title and...well, the Seawolves have played just two games so far, both buy-game blowouts at George Mason and at Kansas.
Geno Ford brings back a number of experienced players, including 6'0" guard Juan Felix Rodriguez (13.3 ppg, 3.2 apg last season), 4-man Frankie Policelli (10.7 points, 4.3 boards) and 6'9" big Jaden Sayles (9.5p, 4.9r). However, Ford didn't stand pat despite losing just one rotation player; he brought back super senior wing Elijah Olaniyi, who averaged over 10 points and 5 boards for Miami last season after playing his first three years for Stony Brook, and point guard Jahlil Jenkins, a former All-NEC player for Fairleigh Dickinson. The most effective player in SBUs' first two games may have been Tykei Greene, a 6'4" wing who began his career at Manhattan. Greene averaged 8 points and 7.5 boards in their two losses.
The Pios are currently 1-3 against D1 competition, and have generally struggled since their season-opening win at La Salle, which also lost to Delaware and knocked off Albany and Army by a total of 6-points.
The matchup to watch is Jenkins vs. Aaron Clarke, pair of PGs who know each other well. Clarke appears healthy after missing a couple of games due to a sprained ankle, and Jenkins has struggled in his new threads. Something else to keep an eye on; the Pios are allowing opponents to shoot 40% from deep, while Stony Brook has made just 28% of its three-pointers. Regression?
Delaware St. at Long Island, 11/27
The Sharks play at Saint Peter's earlier in the week, and of course they can win that one, but they will not be favored; the Peacocks are good, and they're on their home floor.
No, Saturday is the game that intrigues me as the Sharks host a DSU team that is currently ranked #348 at Kenpom, but that might be a bit deceiving; the Hornets are 0-2 against D1 competition (and also lost to non-D1 Salisbury), but they only fell to Rider by 10 and UNC Wilmington by 4, both of which are ranked higher than Long Island.
2021-22 is DSU's first season with Stan Waterman at the helm. Waterman, a local high school coaching legend, brought back a few players from last year's roster, including scoring guard Myles Carter, who is averaging 20.5 ppg against D1 teams. Also back is 2-guard Dominik Fragala, and 7'3" junior Chris Sodom. However, 5 of the 10 players who have appears for DSU are freshmen.
The reason I'm excited for this game is; I want to see if LIU can impose its size advantage on a team that, by and large, is overmatched. Sure, DSU has Sodom, but they have just two other rotation players taller than 6'6". Despite that fact, they held Rider and UNC-Wilmington to a combined 44.6% from two and 25.4% from three. Hofstra transfer Isaac Kante has gotten off to a rough start (36.7% eFG%), and it'd be nice to see him get going.
St. Francis-Brooklyn at the Emerald Coast Classic
After what's likely to be an 0-4 start (SFC is likely to be 25+ point underdogs to St. John's on Tuesday), the Terriers get to play in an MTE with the potential for some wins.
First up; McNeese St., which is currently 0-3 in 3-buy game blowouts and #328 at Kenpom, then either Samford (#233) or North Carolina A&T (#258).
For Glenn Braica's group, it's all about turning up the defense; they've allowed a 58.8% eFG% so far, which is 339th nationally. And it wasn't all Wisconsin and Penn State; St. Thomas put up a 67.2% eFG% last weekend. Both McNeese and St. Francis like to push the tempo, with the former having the 19th fastest Adjusted Tempo in the nation. Watch 6'4" point guard TJ Moss; the former South Carolina Gamecock has a 25.3% usage rate, and scored 17 points at TCU.
So far 6'7" forward Patrick Emilien has been the Terriers' best player; the Western Michigan transfer went for 16 and 6 in the loss to Penn State last week, and has been pretty efficient offensively (94.2%). But Braica probably needs more from Michael Cubbage, who is a sub-40% eFG% through three games.