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The East Carolina Pirates take on the Navy Midshipmen in the Veteran's Classic Friday in a neutral site game. East Carolina won its first game to improve to 1-0 while Navy lost its first game to fall to 0-1. These two teams have not met since the 1990-91 season. Navy leads the all-time series 12-8. Tipoff is Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET at Alumni Hall in Annapolis, Maryland.
East Carolina gets win in opening gameEast Carolina is coming off a subpar year in 2018-19 when they finished 10-21 under coach Joe Dooley. they finished 3-15 in the American Athletic Conference, only better than one team, Tulane. The Pirates lost 11 players from that team, which might be a good thing, considering how bad they were. They did get back their best player, guard Jayden Gardner, who averaged 16.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game last year as a freshman. He is definitely someone to build around, but expectations are not high as they were ranked near the bottom of the conference in preseason polls.
The season did get off on the right foot as they won their opening game, beating Virginia Military Academy 80-68. Gardner led the way with 28 points but he got some help from guard Tristen Newton, who added 20 points. Forward Brandon Suggs chipped in with 12 points. ECU shot 53 percent from the field and 33 percvent from three.
Navy falls to George MasonThe Navy Midshipmen struggled last year, finishing the year with a record of 12-19 overall and 8-10 in the Patriot League. But they finished strong, advancing to the semifinal round of the Patriot League Tournament. Gone from that team is Hasan Abdullah, who averaged 10.1 points and 4.4 assists per game and leading scorer George Kiernan, who averaged 12.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
But they have some nice pieces to build around. Freshman guard Trae Broadnax should have an immediate impact. he'll play alongside He and sophomore John Carter in the backcourt. Carter was named to the Patriot League all-Rookie team last year. Center Evan Wieck, who averaged 9 points and 5 rebounds, is also back.
In a 68-55 season-opening loss to George Mason, Wioeck led the way with 14 points and 7 rebounds while Cam Davis also had 14 points. Greg Sumners added 13 points and 8 rebounds for Navy.
Trends are from Covers.com:
- Midshipmen are 6-20-1 ATS in their last 27 non-conference games
- Pirates are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games.
- Pirates are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games vs. a team with a winning % below .400.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Take East Carolina giving up the points. Go cautiously into this one. Early season games like this, played at a neutral site in an early season tournament are often hard to figure out. Both of these teams are coming off bad years and both of these teams are basically starting over with a lot of new players. The one constant here is ECU's Jayden Gardner, who will probably be the best player on the court. He looked great in the opening game, pouring in 28 points, so I look for him to carry the Pirates to victory here.
Prediction: East Carolina -1.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Take the under. Navy only scored 55 points in its first game and their offense struggled against George Mason. They lost their two leading scorers from last year, so it may take a few games for them to figure out where the points are going to come from. ECU has a legit scorer in Gardner, but Navy is always known for its defense, so i don;t expect ECU, or Gardner, to put up the kind of numbers they did in their first game. The under is 4-0 in Pirates last 4 non-conference games and 4-1 in their last 5 games versus a team with a winning % below .400. Also, the under is 7-3 in Navy's last 10 Friday games.