NEC's Best Bets: 11/19/21
Last night's NEC docket featured three buy games, with Northeast Conference squads all 20+ point underdogs. I took Virginia Tech -20.5 based on how good the Hokies have looked in the early going, and while the Red Flash kept it close for awhile, ultimately Saint Francis (PA) lost 85-55.
The best performance of the evening came from the other St. Francis. The Brooklyn guys hung with Penn State before falling 74-59, easily covering the 20.5 spread. Patrick Emilien put up 16 points and 6 boards, while George Mason transfer Bahaide Haidara had a nice night; 9 points on 4 FGA.
Fairleigh Dickinson was non-competitive in an 82-46 loss at Northwestern. Brandon Rush really struggled (1 for 7 from the field, 3 turnovers), and as a team the Knights made just 2 of 15 from deep. Old friend Elyjah Williams went scoreless in 22 minutes for the Wildcats, but did grab 5 boards.
Tonight we have a couple of mid-major matchups that could be good. Merrimack is -8 at home against Lehigh, which is 0-3 but took Rutgers to overtime. Mount St. Mary's heads out to former NEC member Robert Morris, with both schools looking for their first wins.
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: 5-4
Today's bets: 1) Mount St. Mary's at Robert Morris (-4.5); 2) Lehigh at Merrimack (under 130.5)
Two picks for the price of one today!
The Mount has not looked good in three D-1 games; they've made just 28.6% from deep while opponents are shooting nearly 52% from beyond the arc, and believe it or not they've struggled to control the defensive boards (opponents are grabbing 41% of their misses). Of course; all three were buy games, two of which were expected blowouts (at Villanova and Kentucky).
Bobby Mo has had a similar schedule; three road games against top 50 teams in UCF, Kentucky, and Ohio. They've also struggled to shoot it (27.4% from three), and the defense hasn't been what you'd expect from an Andy Toole-coached team.
Robert Morris has re-loaded this season after a tough first season in the Horizon League, bringing in old friends Michael Green III (Bryant) and Rasheem Dunn (St. Francis-Brooklyn before a stint at St. John's), as well as Ferron Flavors (Oklahoma St.), Justin Winston (St. Bonaventure), and a bevy of other transfers. However, their best player may be Kahliel Spear, a 6'7" stretch-4 who averaged 10 and 5 last season.
Despite both teams being 0-3, RMU has been the better team thus far; its average "Game Score" at Torvik is 32, while Mount St. Mary's' is just 10. Given that Robert Morris is playing its first home game (with fans!), I expect the Colonials to be fired up and cover the 4.5, which came down from 5.5 early this morning.
As for Merrimack-Lehigh; the Mountain Hawks have struggled offensively so far, turning it over on 25% of their possessions and making just 28% from deep. That plays into a Merrimack defense that is licking its wounds after Army put up 1.03ppp on Wednesday. Merrimack has played three D1 games so far, and cumulative score has yet to even approach the over/under. Kenpom projects a total of 125, yet Fanduel set the number at 130.5. First to 65 wins? I'll continue riding the under on Merrimack games until I miss.