In a matchup of experienced teams, Drexel has already shown why it is the more highly regarded team here taking UCLA down to the wire, so give the points vs. Elon Monday.
The favorite may be a tad undervalued Monday given the early season performances of these two teams when those Drexel Dragons (1-1, 1-1 away) take on the Elon Phoenix (2-1, 1-1 home) in the opening game of the NIT Season Tip Off from the Louis Brown Athletic Center in Piscataway, NJ at 5:00 ET.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Drexel as a modest favorite for this contest with the current line at -4 with odds of -112.
Drexel finished a rather disappointing 13-18 under Coach Bruiser Flint last season, but the Dragons continued to play the tough defense that usually categories his teams and they were expected to be much improved this year while starting three seniors and two juniors. Well, they have certainly lived up to the billing thus far through two games.
Elon also starts three seniors, but while the Phoenix may be good enough to challenge for the Southern Conference title this season, that conference is still several notches below the CAA which is why Drexel is the more highly regarded team right now, ranked 63rd on the early Pomeroy Ratings while Elon is just 154th.
Drexel may be just 1-1, but the loss was certainly a “good” one as the Dragons opened up the season on the road vs. the 24th ranked UCLA Bruins and they gave the Bruins all that they can handle before succumbing 72-67, covering the spread as seven-point underdogs with that relative low line an indication of how highly regarded Drexel is this year.
The Dragons benefitted from that experience as they followed it up with a nice 78-70 road win in Missouri Valley Conference territory at Illinois State, a conference famous for its boisterous fans and huge home court advantages. Yet Drexel was unfazed, and the Dragons are already displaying the hard-nosed defense that will more than likely typify their season, as they have held two good opponents to just a 43.0 percent effective field goal percentage!
Also, while Drexel is not a great shooting team that would beat you in a shootout the Dragons have protected the ball well thanks to their senior leadership, turning it over on just 13.9 percent of its possessions against a national average of 18.3 percent. That has helped rank the Dragons a quite respectable 83rd in offensive efficiency through two games despite owning just a 47.7 percent effective field goal percentage.
Elon comes off of an excellent 21-12 season, but the Phoenix beat up mainly on Southern Conference opponents and came up short vs. better competition, failing to beat a team that finished higher than 192nd on the Pomeroy Ratings all season. Now, Elon is off to a 2-1 start this year, but again, the two wins came vs. a Marist team ranked 291st in the early going and in a non-lined game vs. a Division II team called Washington & Lee.
The Phoenix then had a chance to see if that can step up successfully after a 2-0 start, but they lost 83-69 at 136th ranked Charlotte. The Phoenix ranks a dismal 222nd in offensive efficiency despite the easy schedule, mainly because they have been an atrocious offensive rebounding team that has not been getting many second chance opportunities, ranking a pathetic 346th in offensive rebounding percentage.
Do not expect improvement in that regard here with Drexel being above average in defensive rebounding, so look for the class edge of the Dragons here to become evident in a rather handy victory on Monday.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Drexel -4 (-112)