CIT Game of the Day: Saint Peter’s vs. Texas A&M Corpus Christi

 

Last Updated: 2017-03-31

cbb pick of the daySt. Peter’s (22-13) @ Texas A&M Corpus Christi (21-13)
CIT Championship
American Bank Center (Corpus Christi, TX) 9:00pm ET CBS Sports Network

A Champion will emerge from the CIT tonight, as John Dunne and St. Peter’s of the MAAC will make the trip from New Jersey to take on Willis Wilson and Texas A&M Corpus Christi of the Southland Conference. St. Peter’s went through the AEC’s Albany (21-14), 59-55, Texas State (22-14) of the Sun Belt Conference, 49-44, and finally the Southern Conference’s Furman (23-12), 77-51, in the semifinals to get to this championship game. AMCC is playing its 5th tournament game: rolling through Georgia State of the Sun Belt (20-13), 80-64, the Big Sky’s Weber State (20-14), 82-73, Fort Wayne of the Summit League (20-13), 78-62, and finally the AEC’s UMBC (21-13), 79-61, in the semi’s. A win tonight would bring either team its first ever postseason championship in program history.

The A&M-CC Islanders will look to punctuate what was a successful season for Willis Wilson in the Southland Conference, finishing 2nd (12-6) and making it to the conference championship game. AMCC has some experience (114th); starting 2 seniors, 2 juniors, and a freshman with SR 6-8 C Rashawn Thomas serving as defensive leader and go-to-guy on offense. Their main calling card is their defense (145th), which specializes and excels in creating turnovers (9th) and coming up with steals (4th). A shorter than average team (204th), the defense does struggle on the glass (262nd) and also on the interior (243rd) in terms of FG%, but actually gives up a majority of their points from three (91st). The Islander offense (204th), looks inside early and often (10th), where they shoot a 52.2% FG% (58th) with Rashawn Thomas. Granted some of their interior presence is as a result of turnover on defense and points in transition, but they certainly struggle from three (265th), and shoot three’s as infrequently as any team in college basketball (338th). St. Peter’s may actually prove to be a favorable matchup for AMCC’s style of play, for if the Peacocks have any defensive weakness, it is inside.

St. Peter’s had what was certainly an outlier of a performance this year under John Dunne, finishing 2nd in the MAAC (14-6) and winning 10 of their last 11 games. Their only lost since early February was a 73-65 defeat at the hands of the eventual conference representative in the NCAA Tournament, Iona. The Peacocks roster one of the more experienced teams in the nation (34th), starting three seniors and two juniors, with SR 6-8 C Quadir Welton standing out as the offensive star and defensive presence inside. And a defensive presence (36th) St. Peter’s certainly has: excelling in turnover % (40th), rebounding (42nd), and perimeter defense (33rd). Being on the shorter side of teams nationally (284th), the only categories on defense in which they don’t particularly stand out are in 2P% (128th) and Block% (139th). The Peacock offense (210th), however, has its share of deficiencies. Specifically, offensive rebounding (291st) and 2P% (265th), have been their issues, which once again, can be attributed to their lack of height. This is why they rely heavily on the three point shot (41st), which they do hit at a 38% clip (44th). Lastly, St. Peter’s does take care of the ball and avoids turnovers (78th), which is important to note keeping in mind the AMCC defense and their style of play.

In essence, St. Peter’s defensive edge is the most important matchup factor to consider in this game. AMCC may be able to find some success inside with Rashawn Thomas, but Quadir Welton should be able to slow him down enough to negate their inside advantage. St. Peter’s also isn’t opposed to running a zone defense, and forcing A&M-CC to hit shots from the perimeter, where they aren’t very efficient. The fact that St. Peter’s is such an experienced team that takes care of the ball and rarely surrenders stolen possessions doesn’t bode well for AMCC’s defensive success, as they rely on turnover production for success. The consequent effect of this lack of turnover production will be more half-court defensive sets for St. Peter’s where they should hold a massive advantage over the A&M-CC offense. St. Peter’s will have to hit some three’s on offense, as they normally do to win games, but there’s no reason to believe the Islanders defense will offer any more resistance than an average opponent for the Peacocks.

AMCC is 4-0 ATS in last 4 home games.
AMCC is 4-0 ATS in last 4 games overall.
St. Peter’s is 12-3 ATS in last 15 games vs. a winning team.
St. Peter’s is 13-3 ATS in their last 16 road games vs. a winning team.

Opening at St. Peter’s -1.5 off-shore, early action drove this number all the way up to 4.5, with 54% of bets overall on St. Peter’s. At this point, many off-shore shops, including Pinnacle, are showing extra juice on AMCC, making laying the 4.5 possibly a risky proposition in terms of expected value. Without a doubt there was a professional opinion on laying it with St. Peter’s, but chasing a 3 point move isn’t usually profitable in the long run.

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