Add Monmouth -5 As Your Sharp NCAA Basketball Pick vs. Rider

Joe Gavazzi

Friday, February 12, 2016 3:12 PM GMT

The Monmouth Hawks travel from West Long Branch, NJ to visit the Rider Broncos at Alumni Gym in Lawrenceville, NJ. It is the first meeting of the year between these MAAC opponents.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Monmouth -5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

Monmouth vs. Rider 9:00 PM EST
More was expected from this Rider team after a 21-12 SU finish last season, including 15-5 in the MAAC. Expected strength of the team was at guard with the return of a pair of upper class starters Taylor and Okereafor. With a pair of seniors behind them in Sadler and Alford, the Broncos had the look of a veteran team who could make some noise in the MAAC. But Rider has failed to meet expectations this season because of an impotent offense that averages just 67 PPG, 43% from the field, 31% from the arc, and only 69% from the stripe. They will be hard pressed to improve those averages against an underrated Monmouth defense that allows just 39% shooting, only 31% from the arc, and forces nearly 15 TOs per game. But the real strength of the Hawks is their outstanding offense, averaging 81 PPG, knocking down 38% of their triples, and converting 77% of their foul shots, so necessary to extend the lead in the late going if you are favored. 

The first signs of excellence came in mid-November, when the Hawks defeated UCLA 84-81. Later in the month, they would play a holiday tournament in which they beat Notre Dame, avenged an earlier loss to USC, and lost by only 3 to Dayton. A letdown followed when they fell flat on their face vs Canisius in the opener of MAAC play. But since that time, the Hawks have soared with a league record of 12-1 SU, 10-3 ATS.

This has been an outstanding road team, who since that loss at Canisius has gone 6-1 SU ATS on the MAAC highway, winning every game (including against league challengers Iona and Siena) by 6 or more points. Entering on a run of 6-0 SU, 5-0 ATS, the Hawks are currently playing their best ball. In that five game coverage streak, they have covered their last two games by 28 points. Not only is Monmouth trying to maintain first place in the league, but they are also looking to assure that should they fail to win the CCT crown, they might still be eligible for an at large bid. Simply don’t see Rider standing in the way of this freight train. If you tune in to watch this one on ESPNU at 9 o’clock, you’ll want to make sure to watch the hijinks of the Monmouth bench. They’ve gotten national headlines, and even appeared on an ESPN segment to showcase their creativity in rooting for the starters. 5’7 PG Robinson may be the star, but this bench is capable of stealing the show. 

I invite you to put the NCAA Basketball odds in your favor with my NCAA Basketball pick on Monmouth tonight.