MAAC action here as the Monmouth Hawks prepare to host the Niagara Purple Eagles. Niagara has been a bit of a disappointment as they enter this one at 6-11, while Monmouth sits at 10-7. Oddsmakers have the Hawks as a sizable home favorite for this one, which will be streamed by ESPN+.
Niagara Turning Things Around?Niagara has been having a weird season, and that might be a pretty big understatement. Right before the season started their head coach Patrick Beilein suddenly decided to step down, and nobody knew why. The program has been in the basement of the conference for a while now, and at first it didn't look like things were going to get much better this year. They limped out to a 2-9 record, and it was looking like the same old story for Niagara. Then, a light magically switched on when conference play started. They are 4-2 in MAAC play, and have won each of their past three games.
Weekend Win Highlights 🎥😈 pic.twitter.com/6LhZGIp769— Niagara Basketball (@NiagaraMBB) January 21, 2020
Not surprisingly, they are 5-2 against the spread in their last seven. I don't think they were ever as bad as their record suggested early on, and now they're starting to turn things around. Given the circumstances, they actually have a pretty good offense. They are shooting a very solid 36.1 percent from downtown and 77 percent from the free-throw line as a team, and they hardly ever turn the ball over, which is nice to see in this day and age. They can beat you in a variety of different ways, and they have three different guys averaging at least 11.8 points per game. In their most recent road game, they upset Iona, and they have had some other really tough efforts on the road this season. They aren't the doormat people might be inclined to think they are.
Monmouth Winning NarrowlyThree seasons ago, Monmouth was shockingly good, and they ended up going 27-7 while making it to the NIT. Each of the past two seasons have been pretty rough however, and they finished last year at 14-21. So far this season they've been up and down, entering this one with a solid but not spectacular 10-7 record. However when you are looking at this game and determining whether or not to lay this many points with the Hawks, it is important to look at their recent margins of victory. When you dig into it, they haven't exactly been blowing opponents out. In fact, five of their last seven victories have come by eight points or fewer.
Monmouth had one of the worst offenses in the entire country last season, and things haven't gotten too much better this time around. They are shooting only 41 percent from the floor as a team, and they rank 275th nationally in overall offensive efficiency according to advanced analytics site kenpom.com. Despite playing at an extremely fast pace, they are averaging only 68.2 points per game. They have two very good scorers in Deion Hammond and Ray Salnave, but nobody other than those two averages more than seven points per game. If either one of them is off on any given night, this Hawks offense tanks rapidly. They also don't have a ton of size, as nobody in the rotation is taller than 6'8.
Trends, courtesy of Covers.com: Purple Eagles are:
- 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games overall
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win