Tonight’s college basketball slate is relatively underwhelming, with most of the action based around MEAC conference games. One of those games did stick out to me, and it was the Howard @ Maryland Eastern Shore game. We’ll preview the game before going over why it stood out and how I’ll be wagering on it.
MEAC conference play is still slowly getting started, as both teams tonight will only be playing their second conference game of the season. The Howard Bison enter tonight with an 8-9 overall record but 1-0 so far in MEAC games. The Bison beat Delaware State by 20 points, and hopefully, for them, that sparks a more consistent scoring output.
Howard currently has a 96.5 offensive efficiency rating on KenPom, which ranks 297th in the country. The Bison have ended 82% of their possessions with either a three-pointer or a shot at the rim, but their effective field goal percentage is only 48.7%. Currently, the only shooting category in which the Bison rank lower than 200 is free-throw percentage.
Elijah Hawkins has been the offense's focal point all season, leading the team with 12.8 points and 4.7 assists per game. Without Hawkins, the Bison could find themselves in a much worse position than one game below .500. The Bison’s opponent tonight is also one game below .500 and has managed to perform at a lower level offensively than Howard.
Maryland Eastern Shore has a 93.4 offensive efficiency rating on KenPom, ranking them 337th in the country. Right before conference play began, the Hawks were actually on a four-game win streak, and it seemed as if they had turned the corner offensively. Those possibilities came to a halt in their first conference game, where they only managed to score 46 points.
The Hawks’ biggest strengths as a team are all on the defensive end of the floor. UMES has forced an average of 14.9 turnovers per game and came up with 8.7 steals per game, which both rank in the top 60 in the country.
The point total for this game can currently be found at 134 points, and I’ll be taking the under as my best play. UMES games have seen the under go 4-0 in the last four games, and they are coming off a shooting performance in their previous game, where they shot 29% from the field and 21% from three. The Hawks like to shoot from behind the arc, but the problem is they're only shooting 33% from three this season.
Defensively the Hawks should be able to force arguably the better offensive team in this match-up to have a lot of turnovers. Howard enters tonight averaging 16.3 turnovers per game which ranks 348th in the country, and with their shooting struggles, they need as many possessions to end in shots as they can get.
Both teams play at an almost identical tempo, so with both sides playing at their usual pace, the under is the way to go. The under has hit often when UMES plays at home, and it also hits frequently when Howard plays on the road, going 5-0 in the Bison’s last five away games.