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Niagara Purple Aces vs. Drexel Dragons
Where and when: Daskalakis Athletic Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Friday, 7 pm EST
The Mid-American Conference will meet the Colonial Athletic Association and will feature the Niagara Purple Aces versus the Drexel Dragons on Friday night at 7 pm EST at the Daskalakis Athletic Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Dragons are 3-1 ATS in the last four meetings versus the Purple Aces while Niagara has really played well at the Daskalakis Athletic Center in winning three of the last four meetings against the spread.
Third-year coach Zack Spiker and the Dragons started their season off on a losing note versus Temple on the road on Tuesday night; However, the squad seeks different results as they take on Niagara Friday. Of course, the goal is to improve upon their 13-19 season last year (7-11 MAAC). In all, Spiker continues to look for much more improvement as the season wears on as many of his underclassmen will begin to obtain some experience under their collective belts. This experience can only help them on the offensive end, where they were less-than-stellar in 2018-19. And while they shot horribly versus the Owls, look for this team to improve as the season progresses.
On the other hand, Niagara finished 13-19 on the season last year as well. With only 6 wins next to 12 losses MAAC, the Purple Aces found themselves within the cellar of the conference. Furthermore, they fell to the Monmouth Hawks in the first round of the conference tournament, thus ending what was a horrible season. However, with former Duke star and recently promoted Greg Paulus assuming interim head coaching responsibilities, look for the Purple Aces to rely on their upperclassman to be the tip of the spear in ensuring focus and intensity throughout the year. This will be the first game of the year for Niagara.
Niagara seeking to set a foundation for successNiagara’s Paulus looks to preach leadership for the Purple Aces this season. “A big part of leadership is that you have to be yourself, and that’s something, you take the lessons you’ve learned, the principles, the core values and you apply them to your program in a way that it is authentic and in a way that you can be yourself,” Paulus said. “Our goal is to create a foundation. It’s to create an identity.”
Niagara certainly did not have much of an identity last year as they struggled on both ends of the floor while essentially being pushed around within the conference. Furthermore, they ended the season dropping eight of their last ten games, overall, thus signaling that a change must be made for the program to somehow become more successful. With Paulus at the helm along with the top returnee from last year in guard James Towns (11 ppg, 4 rebs), change is certainly what the team and fans are expecting.
Furthermore, guards Marcus Hamilton (6 ppg) along with Raheem Soloman (8 ppg) also returns for Paulus and will also be expected to expand their roles on both ends of the floor this year as well.
Despite loss, Drexel found a trio of playmakers in loss to OwlsDrexel was paced by forward T.J. Bickerstaff (16 ppg, 7 rebs), guard Cameron Wynter (15 ppg, 4 rebs, 6 ass), along with Matey Juric (11 ppg) in their defeat versus the Temple Owls on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the team shot a dismal 34% from the floor along with 6-30 from long-range (20%) in addition to turning the ball over a total of 14 times. The Dragons were active on the boards, however, with James Butler scoring 7 points while grabbing 15 rebounds (six offensive).
Drexel's late push falls short, and Temple hangs on for the 70-62 win— Drexel Men's Basketball (@DrexelMBB) November 6, 2019
The Dragons put three scorers into double figures pic.twitter.com/nQWxaBgVjW
On the other hand, while their defense was not terrible in allowing just 43% shooting to the Owls, it was Drexel’s lack of consistency when it mattered that caused the home team to pull away slightly in front of their home crowd to get the win. One can certainly expect Bickerstaff, who was 6-11 on the night, along with Wynter and Juric (who went a combined 5-11 from long-range) to get some more minutes in this contest on Friday. Butler and Bickerstaff combined for 10 of the team’s 15 offensive boards in the loss.
- DREX is 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games overall.
- NIAG is 3-7 ATS in their last 10 road games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Dragons will be chomping at the bit in their home opener versus the Purple Aces on Friday night. And while the Aces have been successful ATS on the road versus the Dragons in recent meetings, Niagara will suffer some growing pains this year as they adapt to a new coach while attempting to fill various positions within their roster in the meantime. With that being said, look for the Dragons to utilize their three playmakers in this contest to pull away from Niagara at some point. Drexel is 4-1 ATS in their last five home games.
Prediction: Drexel Dragons
Full-Game Total Pick
And while the Purple Aces have been known to give up points to opponents like candy, I will back the under for this contest in that Drexel has not found their rhythm as a team as of yet. However, the Dragons will certainly be focused on the defensive end of the floor as they held Temple to just 43% shooting as stated. Niagara will struggle for much of this contest as they attempt to find a go-to player that can possibly keep them competitive. The problem is that with Drexel’s defensive mindset, this task will be very difficult.