NCAA Basketball Pick: Manhattan Jaspers vs. Siena Saints

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, February 21, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

The Manhattan Jaspers feel that they are deserving of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, but for that to happen they cannot afford a road slip-up at Siena Friday.

The MAAC could possibly receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament in the event that the probable favorite to win the MAAC Tournament gets upset in that event, but first things first as those Manhattan Jaspers (20-6, 12-3 away) pay a visit to the Siena Saints (11-16, 8-4 home) Friday night at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY at 7:00 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Manhattan as a moderate road favorite for this contest with the current line at -5 with odds of -109.

Manhattan is already at 20 wins and if you include this game the Jaspers will be favored in their last three games. If the Jaspers win out to finish at 23-6, the Manhattan players, and more importantly some bracketologists, feel that they may have done enough to earn an at-large berth to the Big Dance should they get upset in the MAAC tourney.

Thus, they could ill-afford a slip-up in these final three games and Siena is certainly a beatable opponent, considering that it is five game under .500 overall, 7-9 during MAAC play and ranks a hideous 309th in the country in effective field goal percentage at just 46.1 percent.

The Jaspers are actually second in the MAAC right now at 13-4 behind Iona, mainly due to a road loss to the Gaels on January 31st, which remains Manhattan’s last loss as it has won six straight since. The Jaspers will get a chance to avenge that loss in their next game next Friday, this time at home in Riverdale.

In reality, it does not matter much if Manhattan finishes first or second in the conference, as the Jaspers will likely be the only MAAC team getting at-large consideration regardless, a situation they can avoid by winning the MAAC Tournament. You see, the Jaspers are ranked 68th overall on the Pomeroy Ratings, which incidentally matches the number of teams that make the NCAA Tournament, thanks to some nice non-conference road wins vs. La Salle and South Carolina.

Manhattan has the defense to compete with a lot of teams nationally, ranking 51st in the country in defensive efficiency, 31st in effective field goal percentage allowed and 17th in defensive turnover percentage at 21.9 percent, smashing the national average of 18.5 percent, and the Jaspers lead the MAAC in all three of those categories during conference play.

Siena used to be the face of the MAAC a few years ago when it won NCAA Tournament games vs. two major conference opponents in Ohio State and Vanderbilt in back-to-back seasons, but the Saints have fallen on lean times since then and enter this game having lost four of their last five.

Besides being one of the worst shooting teams in the country as mentioned earlier, the Saints have also been sloppy with the basketball ranking dead last in the MAAC during conference play in offensive turnover percentage at 21.4 percent, and they are 314th nationally in that statistic.

That makes for a nightmarish matchup for a team that forces a lot of turnovers like Manhattan, and with these last three games being so important to the Jaspers, look for them to respond with a handy win on the road on Friday.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Manhattan -5 (-109)

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