Saturday, May 21

NJIT vs UMass Lowell Picks and Odds (Jan. 6)

Northwestern center Ryan Young, back, blocks a shot by New Jersey Institute of Technology forward Keeshawn Mason during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Evanston, Ill., Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
  • NJIT (6-5, 1-0 AEC)  takes on UMass Lowell (8-5, 0-1 AEC) Thursday, January 6th, at 6:00 pm ET in Massachusetts
  • The Highlanders are coming off a 69-66 home win against Maine Sunday, while the River Hawks lost to Binghamton 68-63 on the road the same day in each teams’ league opener
  • See the current moneyline, point spread, and game total, plus predictions

The NJIT Highlanders (6-5, 1-0 AEC) — who were picked to finish eighth in the AEC preseason poll — aim for a second straight conference victory s against the UMass Lowell River Hawks (8-5, 0-1 AEC Thursday at the Costello Athletic Center. Tip off is at 6:00 pm ET.

UMass Lowell enters the contest as favorites according to oddsmakers and KenPom predicts the River Hawks will win 69-62.

NJIT vs UMass Lowell Odds

Team Moneyline Spread Total
NJIT TBD +6.5 (-105) O 132.5 (-110)
UMass Lowell TBD -6.5 (-115) U 132.5 (-110)

Odds as of January 4th, 2022.

 

Brian Kennedy’s team got 23 points and 10 rebounds from Miles Coleman in a three-point victory over the Black Bears. Matt Faw chipped in 11 and eight, while James Lee racked up in 10 and six in a game that saw the Highlanders put up a season-high 40 points in the second half.

Meantime, Pat Duquette’s club got a career-high 21 points from leading scorer Kalil Thomas. The junior guard also had six rebounds for the River Hawks in the five-point defeat. Sophomore guard Ayinde Hikim added 13.

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America East Beast

Coleman scored 15 of his game-high 23 after halftime while recording his second double-double of the 2021-22 campaign. The senior forward was one of five Highlanders to put up double-figures in the victory.

Coleman (15.5 ppg) and senior guard Dylan O’Hearn (17.1 ppg) are the only two players on the roster averaging in double-digits. NJIT is a vastly inferior offensive team, rating just 331st by KenPom in offensive adjusted efficiency. But where Kennedy’s club excels is on the defensive end.  The Highlanders are in the top-100 in six defensive categories, including 76th in defensive effective field goal percentage and 76th in defensive 2-point field goal percentage.

Three of NJIT’s five losses have come against teams rated in the top-100 overall by KenPom (Rutgers, St. John’s and Northwestern) with one — against the Red Storm — coming in overtime. This is a team playing slightly above projections so far this season with something to prove on the road.

Down By the River

Thomas’ career-high wasn’t enough to beat the Bearcats, but it was enough to earn the New Orleans native River Hawk of the Week honors.

Thomas has been an offensive threat for the River Hawks this year, leading the team in points per game (11.2) and three-pointers made (26), while also ranking second on the team in assists (29).

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Like NJIT, UMass Lowell isn’t going to wow anyone offensively. The River Hawks rate 266th in offensive adjusted efficiency. But, also like their counterparts Thursday, the Hawks are solid defensively — rating in the top-30 in a pair of defensive categories (29th in defensive turnover percentage and 25th in defensive non-steal turnover percentage).

Thomas leads a group of six players putting up at least eight points per game, that includes senior guard Everett Hammond — who is the only other player on the roster accounting for double-digit scoring. Four of the squad’s five losses have been by 10 points or less, so expect a tight one in Lowell.

The Pick

The River Hawks will be motivated to get on the winning side of the ledger in league player at home against the Highlanders.

But NJIT’s outing against Maine — and Coleman’s performance in it — intrigues me. Both teams are above-average defensively, so the under is a solid bet in this spot. But I’ll go with the road dog here.

Pick: NJIT

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