Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#863 Niagara 142.5 vs.
#864 Monmouth -8
Friday, January 24, 2020 at 7:00pm EST
Written by The Stash



#863 Niagara University
#864 Monmouth University


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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+.

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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.

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 Narrowly

Three 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 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.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

Insiders Status:


I'm taking the points with Niagara all day long here. They unsurprisingly got off to a slow start after their head coach quit two weeks before the start of the season, but they have been coming on strong recently, winning four of their six conference games. Monmouth on the other hand has been winning most of their games by close margins, and I don't think they have the offense necessary to blowout inferior opponents. Niagara has the much more efficient offense, and they spread the ball around a lot better. Not only are they going to keep this one close, I think they might win it outright.

Prediction: Niagara

Full-Game Total Pick

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I also think the over makes some sense. Niagara has a pretty solid offense, but they have had one of the worst defenses in the country this season. They rank 338th nationally in defensive efficiency, and even Monmouth's anemic offense should be able to have some success in this one. Monmouth likes to play at a very fast pace, and being the home team I think they should dictate the tempo here and impose their style. Both teams surprisingly have plenty of shooting for MAAC schools, and I think this one could be a sneaky shootout opportunity.

Prediction: Over

Written By Alex Porter , "The Stash"

Alex Porter is one of the premier minds in basketball and football handicapping. With a degree in statistics, Alex uses advanced metrics as well as copious amounts of film study to make his picks. Since starting his betting career at the age of 18, the recent college graduate has never had a losing football season. We are very glad to have Alex as a part of our team here at StatSalt.