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Siena Saints vs. Niagara Purple Eagles - 3/5/15 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Niagara Purple Eagles (8-21) at Siena Saints (10-19)

College Basketball: Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 5:00 pm (Times Union Center)

The Line: Siena Saints -3 -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds

TV: ESPN 3

The Niagara Purple Eagles and Siena Saints will square off at Times Union Center in Albany, NY in the first-round action of the MAAC Men’s Championship.

The Niagara Purple Eagles finished the regular season with an 8-21 record and earned the 9th seed in the MAAC tournament with a 7-13 conference record. Niagara had a tough year in 13-14 when they only won 7 total games on the season and things were projected to get even worse this year as they lost their leading scorer, Antoine Mason (25.6 ppg), who decided to transfer to Auburn. It was looking as if Niagara was headed to a last-place finish in the conference, however, they were able to win their last 4 games of the season, including a 65-61 road win at #2 Seed Rider as they’ve been playing much  better defensive as of late. Currently, Niagara is ranked 279th in the RPI standings and has played the 141st ranked SOS. Niagara’s biggest wins of the season were against Albany (ranked 1st in the America East) and the win against at Rider on 2/21.

Siena Saints vs. Niagara Purple Eagles - 3/5/15 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

USA TODAY Sports

On the season, Niagara is averaging 64.6 ppg (ranked 242nd) on 39.9% shooting (ranked 311th). The Purple Eagles average 6.3 three-pointers per game (ranked 184th) and shoot 69.0% from the free-throw line (ranked 178th). Niagara commits 13.6 turnovers per game (ranked 256th). Defensively, Niagara is allowing their opponents to average 71.8 ppg (ranked 300th) on 47.0% shooting (ranked 330th). Niagara averages 5.7 spg (ranked 234th) and allows their opponents to shoot 38.0% from beyond the arc (ranked 319th). Leading the way for the Purple Eagles has been Emile Blackman (13.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.4 apg) and Ramone Snowden (10.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.1 spg).

The Siena Saints finished the regular season with a 10-19 record and earned the 8th seed in the conference tournament with a 7-13 MAAC record. Siena had high expectations for this year as they returned the majority of the line-up which won 20 games last year including the CBI Championship, however, really struggled during the second half of the season due to some key injuries and dropped 9 of their last 11 games. Siena depends on outscoring their opponents as they have one of the worst ranked defensives in terms of points allowed. Siena is currently ranked 268th in the RPI Standings and has played the 182nd ranked SOS. Siena key victories of the season include a victory at St. Bonaventure and at home vs. Rider.

Siena has averaged 69.7 ppg (ranked 112th) on 42.7% shooting (ranked 214th). The Saints average 13.1 apg (ranked 135th) and shoot 70.8% from the free-throw line (ranked 107th). Siena averages just 4.9 three-pointers per game (ranked 300th). Defensively, Siena is allowing opponents to average 74.5 ppg (ranked 334th) on 45.2% shooting (ranked 290th). Siena averages 7.5 spg (ranked 54th) and has a turnover margin of 1.4 (ranked 77th). The Saints pull down just 20.31 defensive rpg (ranked 332nd) and commit 21.2 personal fouls per game (ranked 327th). Leading the way for Siena has been Rob Poole (14.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.1 spg) and Marquis Wright (12.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 5.0 apg, 2.1 spg).

The Purple Eagles are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games following a ATS loss and 2-8-1 ATS in their last 11 neutral site games. The Saints are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games following a ATS win and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall.

Siena was able to defeat Niagara twice this season, however, both of these match-ups came earlier in conference play. Siena has only averaged about 64 ppg in their last 5 games which is well below their season average and continues to struggle on defensive. Although Niagara had a tough year, they have shown recently that they are able to win on the road as during their 4 game winning streak, three of the wins have been on the road. These teams are headed in different directions at the moment, and I’m going to take Niagara as I feel they have a good chance to win this one outright and at worse will cover this line with the points. Take Niagara and the points. 

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Niagara Purple Eagles +3

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