Central Connecticut State vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Picks

Daniel Rodriguez of the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights looks to pass to a teammate during the second half of the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena. Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images via AFP.

The very first conference tournament game of the season is slated for tonight as Central Connecticut State tangles with Fairleigh Dickinson for a spot in the NEC Quarterfinals. Read on for our Central Connecticut State-Fairleigh Dickinson picks.

Monday’s featured game of the day simply has to be the very first conference tournament game of the season. It may be February 28, but the madness officially begins tonight! The Northeastern Conference is the first to begin its annual league tournament tonight with a standalone first-round game. The ninth-seeded Central Connecticut State Blue Devils (CCSU) will face the eighth-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (FDU) for a spot in the quarterfinals of the NEC Tournament.

While CCSU (16-14 ATS, 9-20-1 O/U) has won five games in NEC conference play this season, the Blue Devils have not been victorious in a while. You’d have to go all the way back to a Merrimack road upset on Feb. 10 to find CCSU’s latest triumph. Thus, the Blue Devils enter tonight’s game of the tournament on a five game losing streak. Plus, those five losses are in the double digits.

When looking at a leaderboard, Fairleigh Dickinson (11-14 ATS, 14-11 O/U) comes in with five conference wins but only four wins overall. Thanks to forfeiture, the Knights’ latest records make absolutely no sense. While the Knights dropped their regular season finale against Long Island on Saturday, they pulled off a stunning 88-86 upset against Wagner on Feb. 24. This win along with the tiebreakers finally gave FDU home ground for tonight’s first round tournament.

Here are my picks and predictions for Monday’s college basketball game of the day between Central Connecticut State and Fairleigh Dickinson (odds via Caesars Sportsbook; pick confidence based on a 1-5 star scale).

Connecticut Central State vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Game Info

Date: Monday, February 28, 7 p.m. ET
TV: Front row of the NEC
Location: Rothman Center, Hackensack, NJ

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Connecticut Central State vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Odds Analysis

So far, the spread of tonight’s NEC tournament battle has seen minimal significant action. Some money swelled the four-point line in favor of Fairleigh Dickinson. Bettors initially opened the game with UDF carrying -3.5. In terms of ticket count, an overwhelming 87% of bets spread are on the Knights as home favourites.

The total saw a larger adjustment to the opening count. The betting market jumped to below the initial bid of 140. While the current consensus lines have a total pegged at 138, bettors may find slight swings in either direction on some sportsbooks.

Central Connecticut State vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Picks

  • Fairleigh Dickinson -4 (-110) ★★★★
  • Over 138 (-110) ★★

SEE ALSO: The first targets of March Madness

Central Connecticut State vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Predictions

Fairleigh Dickinson-4 (-110)

When it comes to betting on the first conference tournament game of the year, lining up with a team that does at least one thing well is clearly the way to go. When it comes to the stats of the two teams facing off tonight, Fairleigh Dickinson is the one to defend.

The Northeastern Conference is by no means a powerful league. This is reflected in the rankings and metrics of the final two teams in the conference tournament. CCSU and FDU both rank among the 15 worst teams in all of Division I college basketball in both net ranking and overall KenPom efficiency. Interestingly, while the Blue Devils hold a slight edge in net (345 vs. 348), it’s the Knights who get the go-ahead according to KenPom (346 vs. 349).

In terms of these two teams’ ability to score points offensively, both should thrive tonight given how porous each is in defense. However, over the course of a full season, it was Fairleigh Dickinson who showed much more offensive ability. The Knights have averaged 77.7 points per game in the conference, the third most of any NEC team. CCSU finished eighth in the conference in offense (69.0) and defense (75.8).

It also helps that Fairleigh Dickinson has the home court advantage for tonight’s NEC first round game. The Knights clearly showed more upside during the season as they knocked out the Northeast Conference’s most popular team in Wagner 88-86. While CCSU and FDU split their two regular season matchups, the Knights dominated the head-to-head encounter at home, earning a 75-55 win on Jan. 30.

Over 138 (-110)

Breaking down a lateral handicap above, we noted the stark difference in offensive scoring between these two teams. Defensively, however, Central Connecticut State and Fairleigh Dickinson are equally awful.

According to KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency ranking, the Blue Devils were 327th at that end of the field, giving up 112.2 points per 100 possessions. Based on straight scoring averages, CCSU was indeed horrendous in allowing their opponents to rack up 75.8 ppg.

While Central Connecticut State’s defensive stats leave something to be desired, Fairleigh Dickinson’s are actually even worse! KenPom ranked the Knights 346th in adjusted defensive efficiency this season, allowing opponents 114.8 points per 100 possessions. All of the runs that the NEC’s entire No. 3 rating offense managed were returned to the defensive side, and then some. FDU yielded a whopping 78.2 ppg.

Another thing to note here is each team’s top scorer. Either way, it’s an upper class guard. Nigel Scantlebury led the Blue Devils this season with an average of 13.1 points per game. For the Knights, junior Brandon Rush produced 14.1. Come tournament time in March, the very old adage is that guard play is extremely important.

CCSU and FDU split the difference to eclipse the betting total in their two regular season meetings. After combining for a combined 130 points in Game 1 – a blowout victory for the Knights – the two teams amassed 173 points in the most recent meeting.

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Central Connecticut State-Fairleigh Dickinson Picks Made 2/28/2022 12:57 PM ET.

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