Free NCAA Basketball Picks: Rider To Cover ATS Against Monmouth

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, February 26, 2016 4:33 PM UTC

Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 4:33 PM UTC

It is a Battle of New Jersey inside the MAAC, and while the Monmouth Hawks have become national darlings look for the Rider Broncs to play them tough as usual. Preview my NCAA basketball pick here.

The home favorites could be overvalued in MAAC action Friday night after getting quite a bit of national notoriety this season as the upstart Rider Broncs (11-18, 10-15 ATS) pay a visit to those potentially overrated Monmouth Hawks (23-6, 17-10 ATS) at the Multipurpose Activity Center in West Long Branch, NJ at 9:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN2.

The point spread at 5 Dimes has Rider as a large road underdog for this contest with the current line at +10½ on the NCAA basketball odds boards at odds of -105.


Competition at the Top
Monmouth is currently ranked 67th in the country overall on the Pomeroy Ratings, meaning that the Hawks could be a rare MAAC team that may receive at-large consideration for an NCAA Tournament berth should they get upset in the MAAC Tournament, especially with some great non-conference wins earlier on.

However, Monmouth blew an opportunity to take a stranglehold of the MAAC regular season title was it was blown out at home 83-67 by Iona last week. The Hawks are currently an excellent 15-3 in MAAC play, but they only lead by one game in the conference standings over that 14-4 Iona team.

Rider meanwhile is only playing for seeding position as the Broncs stand eighth in the MAAC at 7-11, one-half game behind seventh place Canisius and two games behind sixth place Manhattan with two games remaining, as they end the regular season vs. Manhattan on Sunday. The Broncs are not in good current form having been the losing NCAA basketball picks in four of their last five games, but they always play their Jersey rivals from Monmouth tough.


Hawks No Longer Flying High?
The Hawks were national darlings early in the season when they knocked off the likes of Notre Dame, UCLA, USC and Georgetown with all of those wins coming either on the road or on neutral courts, and they became even more popular nationally due to the wild celebratory antics of their bench players on the sideline, so much so that the Monmouth bench has actually made talk show appearances!

However, the Hawks have had some disappointing losses since all of that notoriety, as besides the blowout home loss to Iona, they lost to a couple of supposedly inferior opponents in conference in Canisius and Manhattan and they also had a terrible non-conference loss to Army.

Moreover, Monmouth would currently be on a four-game ATS losing streak if not for overtime at St. Peter’s Sunday, when it was fortunate enough to outscore the Peacocks by seven points during the extra session to squeak out the point spread cover 82-75 as a six-point favorite. Yes, the Hawks have still won nine of their last 10 games straight up, but four of the last six wins have been by single-digits, which is significant with this double-digit spread.


Broncs Almost Rode to Upset Last Time
Besides the aforementioned bad losses for Monmouth since the start of MAAC play, Rider very nearly handed the Hawks another upset as the Broncs were nipped 79-78 as 5½-point home underdogs four games ago on February 12th. And remember that Rider was able to finish off the upset 63-60 when these clubs met here in this building last season.

If there is one area where Rider actually has an edge in this game, it is on the interior where Monmouth is surprisingly only 220th in the country in two-point shooting at 47.5 percent while Rider is a very good 61st in two-point defense allowing just a 45.6 percent success rate. That was a major key in the near upset two weeks ago when Monmouth made only 12 of its 35 two-point attempts for 34.3 percent, and similar interior defense should keep Rider in this game as well.


Rider Holding Its Own
Finally, that near upset was not an anomaly as the big underdogs from Rider have done well in this head-to-head series betting wise, going 4-1-1 ATS in the six head-to-head meetings since Monmouth became a member of the MAAC. Also, Rider is a fine 11-4 ATS in its last 15 games vs. teams with a winning straight up records.

After losing by just one point to the Hawks back home in Lawrenceville earlier this season, look for Rider to again take this game down to the wire and continue its head-to-head ATS dominance in this New Jersey rivalry this time visiting Monmouth on ESPN2 on Friday.


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NCAA Basketball Pick: Rider +10½
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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