NEC's Best Bets: 11/17/21
While I was at Mohegan Sun last night watching Central Connecticut hang with NC State for the better part of 30 minutes, I was able to scratch out another win as Kentucky covered the 23.5 points in a 90-55 win over Mount St. Mary's. That's a 3-game win streak!
We have a full 4-game NEC slate tonight, and my first thought was to take Long Island +26 at UConn, but I'm not sure I trust the Sharks after last week's west coast trip. I need to see more.
Saint Peter's at Wagner is probably the game of the night; a ton of local flavor, with both squads having that "let's go dancing in March" feeling. However, Wagner -4.5 is a little too rich for my taste.
So instead, let's head to West Point.
A reminder; this is not gambling or financial advice, and I'm not suggesting anyone copy me. These are my bets, and my bets only.
Season Record: 4-3
Today's bet: Merrimack (+1.5) at Army
I previewed this one in my Forecaster, so go read up on it if you want; but long story short, this is a clash of styles. Jimmy Allen's Army squad like to get up and down and shoot the 3, while Joe Gallo wants to slow this thing down and take away every perimeter shooting opportunity.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the differences in projection systems, and tonight is an interesting example; Kenpom has the Black Knights favored by 1, while Torvik, which is super bullish on the Warriors, has Merrimack -5. Tf? Now, Bart did tell me that it his system does tend to struggle with new-ish D1 teams, and since we have just 2 seasons of data on MC, that's likely the case. So take that projection with a grain of salt.
Anyhow; the Warriors have been really good in the early going; the defense held Rutgers to just 0.83ppp after limiting NJIT to 0.78ppp. Good luck scoring. The offense needs to start clicking more, but are they really going to continue to shoot 27% from deep? I doubt it.
Army? They expectedly got hammered by Duke 82-56, then stayed at Cameron Indoor and knocked off Hartford 86-79. But is it possible that UHart just isn't very good (at least not yet)? UHart is 0-3, all against teams ranked outside the top 150 at Kenpom, and have dropped 24 spots at Kenpom already. It's a nice win for Army, which will likely finish in the middle of the pack in the Patriot League, but I believe Merrimack is the better team.
Despite this being a road game for MC, I'm all-in on this Joe Gallo defense. Give me the Warriors straight up.