NCAA Basketball Pick: Niagara -6 over Monmouth

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, January 10, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

The Monmouth Hawks have made the move to the MAAC this season, but they may have their work cut out for them when they hit the road to face Niagara on Friday.

The home team looks to have a nice chance to take advantage of a new conference member on Friday night when the newest team in the MAAC, the Monmouth Hawks (7-8, 2-3 away) pay a visit to the Niagara Purple Eagles (4-11, 3-2 home) at the Gallagher Center in Niagara, NY at 7:00 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Niagara as a home favorite for this contest with the current line at -6 with odds of -106.

Monmouth is coming off of a 10-21 season where it went just 5-13 inside the tiny Northeast Conference, and yet it is making the jump this year to a MACC that is generally considered a better conference. Well, the good news is that the Hawks on pace to eclipse last year’s win mark at 7-8 and some of the losses have been to the likes of Penn State and St. John’s. The bad news is that Monmouth also has some terrible losses and has not beaten much.

Niagara returned four starters from a team that went 19-14 last season including 13-5 inside the MACC before losing to Iona in the second round of the MAAC Tournament, but despite that experience the Purple Eagles have had to learn a new system under new coach Chris Casey, and the team got off to a 1-8 start because of it.

Casey is a New Yorker with a bit of a “street ball” mentality, and he has the Eagles running like they never did before as Niagara is currently rated eighth in the country in tempo rating! Apparently it took a while for the players to get acclimated to his system, but they have started to get it as the Purple Aces are 3-3 straight up and a spiffy 5-1 ATS since that 1-8 start.

Now a by product of Niagara’s system is that the defense is ranked 251st in the country in efficiency. Two things to keep in mind there though are that Monmouth seems to lack the firepower to take advantage of that with an offense ranked 283rd in efficiency and, as vulnerable as the Niagara defense is, it does like to apply pressure ranking an excellent 28th in the nation in defensive turnover percentage.

That can create some real problems for a Monmouth team that did not face many funky defenses like this in the Northeast Conference. The Hawks are not a good shooting team to begin with ranking 313th in the country in raw field goal percentage and 272nd in effective field goal percentage, but another reason for the Hawks’ low offensive efficiency is because they rank 198th in offensive turnover percentage.

That plays right into a Niagara defense whose goal is to turn teams over and not allow them to break their pressure and get easy baskets behind it, which better offenses than Monmouth have been able to do with apparent ease. The Hawks are susceptible to that pressure and they have actually seen their turnover percentage rise from 18.9 percent overall to 19.4 percent in their first four MAAC games ever.

Monmouth already has five losses to teams ranked 126th or worse on the Pomeroy Ratings and none of the Hawks wins have come vs. a team ranked higher than 187th, so look for turnovers to plague them on the road again as Niagara literally runs away to a handy victory on Friday.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Niagara -6 (-106)

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