NEC's Best Bets: 11/16/21
In the lone NEC game on the docket last night, I took Clemson -11.5 over Bryant, largely because I was worried about two things; Bryant turnovers, and the Clemson frontline. Turnovers weren't an issue; in fact, they coughed it up just 9 times (13%). However, Clemson was too much for Bryant up front.
Led by P.J. Hall (7 of 12 from two) and Hunter Tyson, Clemson converted 14 of 22 at the rim, which ultimately opened up the 3-ball to the Tigers in the 2nd half (they finished 10 for 18 from deep). Peter Kiss (24p, 8r, 4a) was awesome, as was Chris Childs (5 for 5 from three), but it simply wasn't enough against an ACC opponent.
Two NEC games tonight, both featuring 20+ point underdogs.
Season Record: 3-3
Today's bet: Mount St. Mary's at Kentucky (-23.5)
So far on the young season, NEC teams have been 20+ underdogs five times, and the opponent covered in four of those. The other? St. Francis-Brooklyn gave us a backdoor cover on a 25-point spread in a 81-58 loss at Wisconsin.
It's been a struggle for the Mount through two D1 games; a 91-51 loss at Villanova and an 80-60 loss at St. Joe's. We knew the offense would struggle, but allowing 1.15ppp to St. Joe's was surprising, and it wasn't just an unlucky 10-18 from three for the Hawks; St. Joe's grabbed 46.4% of their misses, which isn't what you'd expect from the Mount St. Mary's frontline.
Kentucky is different from year's past; they're young and talented, sure, but they also have experience: Oscar Tshiebwe, a 6'9" junior big, came in from West Virginia; Kellan Grady, a sharp-shooter, transferred in from Davidson; and point guard Sahvir Wheeler began his career at Georgia. However, the 'Cats best player may be freshman Tyty Washington, a 6'3" scorer who will likely be a 1st round pick in June.
Kentucky fell to Duke at the Champion's Classic, then completely dismantled Andy Toole's Robert Morris club 100-60 last Friday. Remember; RMU is another defense-first program, and UK had no issues in scoring nearly 1.40ppp.
Mount St. Mary's is shooting just 26% from deep (41% eFG%), and UAB transfer Jalen Benjamin has gotten off to a rough start as he replaces Damian Chong Qui; the 5'10" combo-guard is just 1 for 7 from deep, and has 8 assists against 10 turnovers. Malik Jefferson, the 6'9" senior big, has been the Mountaineers' best player in the early going, but it won't be easy going up against Tshiebwe and his career 5% block rate.
The trend is your friend, and the trend in the early-going has been NEC teams not coming close to covering big lines.