Rider Broncs (21-9) @. Siena Saints (19-10), Siena -3 and 148 for o/u, Times Union Center, Albany, New York, 8 p.m. Eastern, Monday
By Oracle at Predictem.com
For teams in mid-major conferences such as the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, it’s go big or go home.all or nothin’..do or die.make or break..you get the picture.
This is the case tonight for the MAAC tournament championship game between No. 1 Siena and No. 2 seed Rider, who will meet for the third time this season to determine which team will punch their ticket to the Big Dance.
Both teams, who split the regular season series by winning on each other’s home floor, won their semifinal games Sunday night via the comeback variety.
Siena rallied from a huge 17-point deficit in the second half to beat Loyola, 65-63, thanks in part to a defensive stop at the end of regulation to preserve the big victory. The Saints struggled mightily on offense in the first half, getting held to 21 points on 30% shooting. Junior guard Kenny Hasbrouck led the second half charge, scoring all of his 17 points in the final 20 minutes.
The Saints will have a chance to win their first MAAC title since 2002 when they face a familiar foe in the Rider Broncs.
Rider also trailed at halftime against their semifinal opponent Marist, but MAAC Player of the Year Jason Thompson lived up to that label when he took over the contest and finished with 32 points and 18 rebounds in all 40 minutes of play.
The Broncs won despite being depleted with injuries, not having their starting backcourt of Justin Robinson and Ryan Thompson. Robinson was in uniform against Marist, but didn’t play because of a foot injury. Meanwhile, Thompson, who is the team’s second leading scorer, suffered a concussion in their quarterfinal victory. The status of both players for tonight’s game is not known at the time of publishing this article.
The most recent match up between these two squads saw Siena knock off Rider, 80-77. Siena relied heavily on their starting five, as four of them scored in double figures, including a team-high 20 by Alex Franklin. Josh Duell was the hero, though, hitting a game winning three-pointer with just 1.3 seconds left. Duell finished with 14 points. The Broncs got just four points from their bench in the contest.
Jason Thompson did his best to keep Rider in the ball game, tallying game-highs of 26 points, 24 rebounds and 5 blocks. Also in the game, Ryan Thompson had a big impact, hitting 6 of his 7 shots and scoring 13 points and dishing out 4 assists. Thompson also scored 20 points in the first contest between the teams. Rider will have a tough time both offensively and defensively (he’s the team leader in steals) without his services.
Rider did beat Siena back in the beginning of February, 89-75, as Jason Thompson was once again in the middle of the action, scoring 23 points and grabbing 21 rebounds. The game was never really close, as Rider led by 25 at halftime.
Both teams rely more on their offense than they do on their defense. Rider averages nearly 78 points per game, which is 26th in the country. They also shoot a blistering 49% - 8th best in the nation.
Siena has the offensive capability to keep up with Rider, scoring 76.9 points per game and hitting 38.3% of their three-pointers.
Bettors should take notice of the offensive firepower between these two MAAC squads, as the over has come in the last five times they have met. The over is also 22-5-1 in the last 28 MAAC games for the Broncs. The over is also 18-9-1 on the year for Rider.
Both teams have faired all right against the spread for bettors, with Rider compiling a 15-13 mark and Siena a half game better at 16-13 ATS.
The Saints, who didn’t cover last night against Loyola, are 21-5 after not covering the game before, but they are also just 1-5 ATS in their last six home games.
The Broncs have struggled covering the spread in MAAC games lately, going just 2-6 ATS in the last eight games.
As the No. 1 seed, Siena has the advantage of playing at their home building in Albany, even though Rider ha already beat them there this year. Rider has also been riddled with the injury bug, losing a couple of key components late in the year. I’ll be tough for them to stay with Siena if both Thompson and Robinson have to sit, but that’s why they play the game.
Oracle’s Pick: Take the Over 148.5!