The 8-seed NJIT Highlanders will travel to Patrick Gymnasium to take on the 1-seed Vermont Catamounts in the Quarterfinals of the America East Championship.
The NJIT Highlanders finished their regular season with an overall record of 11-17 and earned the 8-seed in the American East Championship after finishing conference play with a 6-12 record. NJIT was led by their defense which ranked 175th in scoring defense & 148th in defensive FG%, however, NJIT struggled on the offensive end and come into this matchup ranked just 332nd in scoring offense, 317th in FG%, & 248th in 3P-FG%. NJIT finished their non-conference schedule with an overall record of 5-5 with their best performance coming on the road in an OT loss at St. John’s. NJIT struggled in conference play, losing 7 of their first 10 games, and although the Highlanders did pick up a nice win at New Hampshire, NJIT doesn’t come into this game with a bunch of momentum as they lost their last 4 regular season games.
On the season, NJIT is averaging 63.1 ppg on 40.8% shooting from the field. The Highlanders are averaging 6.4 three-pointers per game on 32.4% shooting from beyond the arc. Offensively, NJIT has been led by Miles Coleman (15.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.2 spg), Dylan O’Hearn (11.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.6 apg), Matt Faw (7.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.4 bpg), & Mekhi Gray (7.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.0 apg). NJIT has been without James Lee (7.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.9 spg), & Antwuan Butler (7.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.3 spg) due to undisclosed injuries and should be considered doubtful for this matchup.
Defensively, NJIT is allowing their opponents to average 69.0 ppg on 42.7% shooting from the field. The Highlanders have a rebound margin of -2.4 and a turnover margin of -1.1.
The Vermont Catamounts finished their regular season with an overall record of 25-5 and earned the top-seed in the American East Championship after finishing conference play with a 17-1 record. Vermont went 8-4 in their non-conference schedule with signature wins over Northern Iowa & Colgate. Vermont dominated American East play, reeling off 12 consecutive wins to start conference play and despite an OT loss at Hartford in mid-February, the Catamounts have looked strong as of late winning their last 5 games of their regular season with 20+ victories over New Hampshire & UMBC.
On the season, Vermont is averaging 74.0 ppg on 48.6% shooting from the field. The Catamounts are averaging 8.6 three-pointers per game on 35.8% shooting from beyond the arc. Offensively, Vermont has been led by Ryan Davis (17.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.4 apg), Ben Shungu (15.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.1 spg), Isaiah Powell (8.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.0 apg), & Justin Mazzulla (7.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.8 apg).
Defensively, Vermont is holding their opponents to an average of 61.5 ppg on 41.4% shooting from the field. The Catamounts have a rebound margin of 5.6 and a turnover margin of 1.2.
The Catamounts are 16-13 ATS overall on the season, however, are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning % below .400. The Highlanders are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games overall & 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games.
Vermont dominated NJIT in both of their regular season outings this season as the Catamounts defeated the Highlanders by an 83-57 margin on the road in mid-January while also defeating NJIT by a 90-67 margin at home in early February.
Vermont is once again the team to beat in the American East this season and it’s hard to imagine that Catamounts have much trouble against an NJIT team that has been terrible on the offensive end this season and come into this game and has struggled on the road lately, losing their last 3 road games, including a 65-61 loss at Maine. Vermont is a team that is talented on both ends of the court, ranking 108th in scoring offense & 18th in scoring defense, and as I expect Vermont to win this one by 25+, I’m taking Vermont to cover this large home spread. Good Luck!