The Niagara Purple Eagles have lost three straight games and will look to get back in the win column tonight at home against the Fairfield Stags. We’ll preview the game before going over which side I’ll be backing in this one.
Fairfield will enter tonight fresh off a one-point loss to Manhattan, bringing their conference record to 8-9 on the season. Despite the loss, the 7th-place Stags have looked much better on the offensive end of the floor over the past three games, averaging 72.6 points per game in that span, while their season average is 64 PPG.
The Stags will need to continue their offensive hot streak to avenge their loss to the Purple Eagles earlier in the season. In that overtime loss, the Stags could only manage 69 points while shooting 32% from the field and 12% from three. Fairfield finished the game with just five assists, which has been an issue all season, as the lack of ball movement has made it challenging to put up consistent scoring numbers.
Until recently, the Stags have secured most of their wins on the defensive end of the floor. Fairfield is ranked 84th in the country in opponent effective field goal percentage, but arguably their biggest strength on that end of the floor is limiting the three ball. Opponents are shooting just 28.5% from three against the Stags this season, ranking them 7th in that category.
In the first meeting between these two teams, Niagara went just 5 for 18 from three in the game, as the only player who found success from beyond the arc was freshman Aaron Gray. The Purple Eagles, however, don’t need to rely on the three ball to win games, as they rank 309th in three-point attempts per game.
Much like the Stags, the Purple Eagles are more of a defensive-minded team. Opponents have averaged 65.6 points per game against Niagara this season, and due to the slow tempo they run at, opponents are averaging just 53.8 field goal attempts per game.
The Niagara Purple Eagles are currently listed as -2 point favorites, and I’ll be backing them for my play in this one. Even with the recent streak of solid offensive performances, the Stags have put up, they are still struggling with efficient shooting numbers, and with the slow tempo both sides like to operate, that could make it difficult for them to stay in the game tonight.
The only reason the Stags' field goal attempt numbers were higher in the previous matchup between the two teams was due to overtime. Even with 13 more field goal attempts than their average, the Stags still had poor shooting percentages and could only muster six points in overtime.
Niagara has been a much better shooting team at home this season, as their shooting percentages increase close to 6% in both field goal and three-point percentages in home games as opposed to road games. Even with the Stags' strong ability to guard the three ball, I think the Purple Eagles can find success tonight, especially leading scorer Noah Thomasson, who is averaging 19.7 PPG over his last ten games.
Niagara Purple Eagles (-2)