Return of the MAAC: Final Friday of 2019

If you’re one of the three people reading this, you may be wondering why the hell I keep going back to the MAAC. I think one of the best ways to identify value in college basketball is to know a smaller conference inside and out. There are multiple reasons for this, the first is that obviously the more you pay attention to a conference the better you’ll know the strenghts and weaknesses of the individual teams.

Beyond simply gaining more knowledge, there are two other distinct advantages to focusing on a small conference: lack of volume, and lack of time for the books to handicap every little detail.

On big games, if you aren’t one of the first to identify value and get the best of the number, the line may have already moved by the time you realize you should bet it. So games with higher volume are going to have lines that close at much sharper numbers than a game with very little volume bet on it.

The second reason is that the bookies aren’t able to handicap every little detail when there are 353 teams in college basketball. This also ties into the volume angle, with so little money bet on these small conference games, the books don’t HAVE to pay as much attention because there is far less to lose on a Friday night MAAC game than a Saturday morning Kentucky vs. Tennessee game.

Overall through three weeks of betting on the MAAC, we are dead even at 7-7. It’s time to get in the green…

Siena at Canisius (-1.5)

Siena does a good job of not fouling, ranking 42nd in allowing opponents to score from the free-throw line, and they also do a good job of not turning the ball over on offense, ranking 28th in turnovers on offense. These two factors figure to help out a lot in a close game as this one is supposed to be.

As a general rule in the MAAC we’re looking to back the road team due to a lack of home court advantage in this conference. If there was ever a time to use this trend to our advantage it’s tonight, as Canisius ranks 352 out of 353 teams in home court advantage at just 1.6 points.

Currently 63% of the bets, and 63% of the money are on Siena, and tonight it’s time to ride with the sharps.

The Sharp Play: Siena +1.5

Iona at Rider (-5.5)

I wanted to like Iona in this game getting 5.5 points, but I can’t justify it looking at the numbers. It’s a shame too, because according to kenpom, these are the two best teams in the conference.

It’s no surprise then, that the team getting 5.5 points is receiving 61% of the tickets. The cash is split dead even at 50/50. This game will have to be a pass for me.

Quinnipiac (-1.5) at Saint Peter’s

On the surface this line is a headscratcher. Quinnipiac currently sits a half game out of first place in the MAAC with a 10-6 record in conference, while St. Peter’s is tied for last place with Fairfield at 5-11. Saint Peter’s home court is worth 2.4 points, which is about average for the MAAC and suggests that Quinnipiac is just four points better on a neutral court.

The Bobcats have baffled me lately, so I’m hesitant to pull the trigger on the road favorite in this one. Saint Peter’s amazingly is #1 in the country in block percentage, while Quinnipiac is near the bottom, ranking at #324. If Quinnipiac can just manage to shoot over St. Pete’s though, they do rank 68th in 3-point percentage, compared to Saint Peter’s allowing the 324th worst 3-point percentage on defense.

There is a clear split between the cash and tickets in this one, with 58% of the cash on Saint Peter’s while 76% of the tickets are on Quinnipiac.

I probably shouldn’t, but screw it. I’m taking the Bobcats giving up the short number.

The Square Play: Quinnipiac -1.5

Monmouth at Manhattan (-1)

Talk about a shitshow. This game features a Monthmouth team at 10-20 overall heading to Manahattan which is 9-19 overall. These are also two of the worst offenses in college basketball with Monmouth running out the 340th most effiicient offense, against Manhattan’s 348th ranked offense.

Manhattan also plays slower than nearly every other team in the country at #350 in adjusted tempo. This is an angle we’ve attacked before, and we’ll attack it one more time in a game that you should have to be paid to watch.

The total in this game opened at 116 and is up to 118 for some reason. Kenpom is expecting a 57-56 final, and that sounds about right. I think these teams will be lucky to reach a combined 100 points.

The Degenerate Play: Under 118

Marist at Fairfield (-2.5)

I’ll keep this quick, because to be honest, it’s getting a little painful writing this many words about the MAAC.

This line just doesn’t make sense to me. Marist is the better team and this line is pretending that these two teams are equal on a neutral court.

The Lazy Pick: Marist +2.5

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