MAAC action here as the Monmouth Hawks host the Quinnipiac Bobcats. Monmouth is still very much alive for the MAAC title, so this game means everything to them. They enter this one at 15-11 overall, while Quinnipiac sits at 12-13. Oddsmakers have the Hawks as a sizable favorite for this one, which will be streamed by ESPN+.
Quinnipiac Middling StillQuinnipiac finished right around .500 last year, and it looks like they're headed for another middling finish this season. It's been a while since they've been anything better than mediocre, and the improvement isn't coming this year. They've been remarkably average, entering this one at 12-13 overall and 7-8 in the conference. They haven't been particularly good on either side of the ball, but things have been especially brutal on defense. They rank 299th out of 353 Division 1 teams in overall defensive efficiency according to advanced analytics site kenpom.com, and they have given up a lot of eye-popping numbers despite the fact that they don't play at a fast pace.
In two of their past three games, they've given up at least 79 points. They have fallen on hard times recently, losing eight of their last 11 entering this one. Their only three wins in that span came against Fairfield and Canisius, two of the worst teams in the conference. Not only have they lost five straight road games, but they haven't even been competitive in those. Each of those five recent road losses came by at least 12 points. Clearly, they have an issue playing away from home. It's not like they've been particularly sharp on offense either, as they shoot only 41.7 percent from the floor. They don't force many turnovers and are averaging only 4.5 steals per game while turning it over 13.7 times per game.
Monmouoth Needs This OneMonmouth has been a pleasant surprise this season. They finished last year at just 14-21, and have taken a big step forward. They enter this one at 15-11 and have put themselves in pretty good shape. They're right in the thick of the conference race, and could still easily win the regular season MAAC title if they close strong. They've managed to hang in there recently despite absurdly playing six of their last eight games on the road. Three of their last four losses have come by five points or fewer, so even their recent defeats have been competitive. They have two great lead scorers in Deion Hammond and Ray Salnave, each of whom average at least 14.4 points per game.
They both shoot at least 36 percent from downtown as well. But while they have some solid offensive weapons, most of their improvement has actually come on defense. They now rank 146th in overall defensive efficiency according to Kenpom, a pretty impressive achievement for a MAAC school. They average an impressive 7.8 steals per game and turn the ball over less often than Quinnipiac despite the fact that they play at a much faster pace. After a brutal road trip they're now returning home to a place they've played much better this season. They're 5-1 in six conference home games, with three of those wins coming by at least 11 points.