Home court advantage could make all the difference in Friday night MAAC action when the Siena Saints (11-14, 3-8 away) pay a visit to the Marist Red Foxes (9-15, 7-3 home) at the McCann Center in Poughkeepsie, NY at 8:00 ET in a game available on ESPN3.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Marist as a moderate home favorite for this contest with the current line at -4 with odds of -110.
Marist may be just 9-16 overall, but that actually makes the Red Foxes 9-7 since beginning the season at 0-9, and they enter this contest on nice runs of 3-1 straight up and 3-0 ATS after a covering 83-78 loss as a 7½-point underdog vs. a Quinnipiac team battling for the MAAC title on Monday.
Siena was the face of the MAAC when it won NCAA Tournament games in consecutive seasons a few years ago, but they Saints have now had a couple of lean years and besides being three games under .500 overall so far, they are in sixth place in the MAAC with a 7-7 conference mark. That still leaves them ahead of 6-9 Marist in seventh, but the Red Foxes could close that gap to one-half game here in Poughkeepsie tonight.
And Marist has been quite good at home going 7-3 overall compared to a 2-9 mark in true road contests. The Red Foxes have played especially well defensively in this building, holding their opponents to just 64.2 points per game on a mere 40.9 percent shooting. In fact, Marist has allowed more than 70 points just once in seven home games, and that was in a 75-73 win over Monmouth.
That is not surprising though as defense is the Red Foxes’ strong suit, as they rank third in the MAAC in defensive efficiency during conference play. In fact, Marist is above average nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, grading out at 101.7 points per 100 possessions vs. a national average of 104.4, and that success has been fueled by a pressure defense that ranks 48th in the country in defensive turnover percentage at 20.7 percent vs. a national average of 18.6.
Yes, it has been a struggle for the Red Foxes offensively where they rank 299th in efficiency, but one thing that Marist does do well is go to the foul line a lot as it had a good FTA/FGA percentage of 40.7 percent overall, which rises to an excellent 42.9 percent during MAAC play, and the Foxes know what they do when they get to the charity stripe ranking second in the conference at 74.1 percent.
Besides Marist being much better at home, Siena has not been a good road team this season at 3-8 while getting outscored by -6.2 points per game, a figure that is higher than this point spread, and the Saints have lost five of their last six road contests with only one of those losses being by less than six points and that was by four points at Monmouth back on January 2nd, which would only ‘push’ this spread.
The Saints are 228th in offensive efficiency, so they figure to have a tough time scoring here vs. a good Marist defense that plays even better at home, and Siena is vulnerable to the Red Foxes’ pressure as it is ranked a dismal 313th in offensive turnover percentage at 21.1 percent.
Siena has not exactly played shutdown defense either ranking 188th in defensive efficiency overall and allowing a generous 75.7 points per game on the road, so look for Marist to win safely at home on Friday.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Marist -4 (-110)