NEC's Best Bets: 11/21/21
For the second Saturday in a row, I didn't publish a Best Bets column yesterday. I'm assistant coaching a 5th grade travel basketball team, and we had our first scrimmage at 8am yesterday morning. The good news? We won 45-31 despite some major homerism on the count of the college-aged ref. The bad news? We took ~5 shots with our heels on the three-point line. That can't happen, boys!
On to the NEC; Friday night was a great night in our little corner of the college hoops universe! Mount St. Mary's overcame a 17-pt deficit to force overtime, eventually knocking off Robert Morris 74-70. I took Bobby Mo -4.5 and was feeling mighty confident early in the second half. Also of note; Merrimack did what they were supposed to do at home against Lehigh, winning 55-45. Yes, I took the under. Always take the under when Joe Gallo is on the sidelines (or at least consider it)!
Yesterday was...not good. FDU played well at St. John's (welcome back Devon Dunn, who was 6 for 8 from deep) in a loss. Central Connecticut again struggled in the second half, which seems to be a theme in the early-going, in an 87-74 defeat at Quinnipiac. And Sacred Heart just couldn't overcome Fairfield, losing at home in front of a raucous crowd 71-61 to Fairfield in the first of hopefully many on campus versions of this rivalry.
Oh yeah...Bryant. The Bulldogs were favored by 17.5 points down in Daytona Beach against Bethune-Cookman, which came in ranked #355 at Kenpom, yet trailed essentially the whole way in an 81-75 loss. When I looked at the box score I expected to see an anomaly, like BCU making a ton of threes or something, and that's just not the case; the Wildcats only made 6 of 13 from deep, instead doing damage at the rim (17 of 33), while grabbing 14 offensive boards (31%). Bryant was beaten on Saturday, and that's not what anyone expected.
Turning our attention to Sunday; Bryant takes on Holy Cross in the consolation game of the Sunshine Classic, and I just can't touch it. My heart wants to take Bryant -8.5 (and perhaps the over on 153.5), but I'm not sure I trust the Bulldogs right now. The offense has been fine, but the defense just isn't there (at least, not yet). Note: Since I started writing this, Bryant has jumped to 10.5 point favorites. No thanks.
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: 6-5
Today's Bet: Merrimack at Virginia Tech (under 123.5)
Again; let's not overthink this. Merrimack has played four games, and in each game hit the under by an average of 23.5 points! They're offense has not been good so far this year, yet the defense has been nails.
As I wrote in Thursday's Best Bets, when I took Virginia Tech -20.5 against St. Francis (PA), Virginia Tech has been a monster defensively so far this season; they've yet to allow a team more than 0.90ppp, and they've won all four games by at least 20 points.
Kenpom has the total of this one hitting 123, while Torvik is at 118; either way, both projection systems see this one falling short of the 123.5 line.
But of course, none of that matters. I've decided I'm riding the under for all Merrimack games until proven otherwise. So let's go.