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The Marist Red Foxes will host the Fairfield Stags in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference match-up on Friday night. The Stags and Red Foxes are both currently tied for eighth place in the conference with a 5-7 record. Although neither team's body of work this season looks very impressive, this is an important match-up for both sides in the MAAC, where the race for the regular-season is very close. At the end of the regular season, the top five teams in the conference receive a first-round bye and automatically advance to the quarterfinals in the conference tournament. With three teams currently tied at 7-5 for third, fourth, and fifth place, Marist and Fairfield can still grab one of those spots with a strong close to the regular season. The loser of this game could also find themselves tied for last place in the conference standings by the end of the week.
Fairfield and Marist met earlier this season on Jan. 8, with the Red Foxes picking up a 70-58 victory on the road. The win over Fairfield snapped an 11 game losing streak for Marist at the time.
Stags offense staggers in defeatsFairfield has lost its last two games, 65-49 at Siena last Friday and 78-54 to Iona on Feb. 9. As during the previous two losses, scoring points has been a challenge for the Stags all season. Fairfield is averaging just 59.7 points per game, and they rank 335th in the nation according to KenPom's offensive efficiency ratings.
Landon Taliaferro is the leading scorer for the Stags averaging 12.8 points per game while shooting 37.3% from the field and 95.2% from the free-throw line. Taliaferro struggled immensely in the last two games, finishing with five points against Iona and a four-point performance at Siena. Taliaferro could be in for another tough game against Marist. The Red Foxes held Taliaferro to just seven points on 3 of 13 shooting from the field earlier this season.
The anemic offensive play has placed a lot of pressure on the defense for Fairfield, who ranks 45th in defensive scoring allowing 64 points per game. Fairfield is 168th in the country, according to KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency ratings.
Terrible start did not derail MaristAfter starting the season 2-13 overall and 1-5 in the MAAC, the Marist Red Foxes have won four of their last six games and put themselves in a position to compete for a first-round bye in the conference tournament. Against Fairfield, Marist will be going for its fourth straight win in home games, coming off 72-61 win over St. Peter's last Friday.
The Red Foxes are the 10th lowest-scoring team in the nation this season, averaging just 60.7 points per game. Micheal Cubbage leads the Red Foxes with 10.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game, while only shooting 34.2% from the field and 20.5% from three-point range on the season. In Marist's 70-58 win over Fairfield earlier this season, Cubbage scored 11 points but shot 3 of 15 from the field.
Defensively the Red Foxes have held their opponents to 66 points per game and rate 187th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
- Marist is 9-3 ATS in conference games
- Fairfield 0-4 ATS in last 4 road games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Fairfield Stags only seem capable of winning very low scoring games right now. Fairfield has lost its last eight games this season when they have allowed an opposing team to score 61 points or more, and Marist has scored 62 points or more during regulation in six of its last seven games. In the Stags' five conference wins this season, their opponents are only averaging 52.2 points per game. I see a problem for the Stags since Marist put up 70 points on the road against them in the first meeting and has averaged more than 69 points over their last seven games. If Marist reaches the 60s in total points, Fairfield will not be able to keep up. The Stags have been held down to 55 points or less in their previous four games. I don't see the Stags coming up with enough offense to steal this game on the road.
Full-Game Total Pick
You would be hard-pressed to find another Division I college basketball game this month with less overall offensive firepower than what the Red Foxes and Stags possess. With two of the lowest-scoring teams in the country going against each other, I expect the oddsmakers to adjust with an extremely low line. The total was 108 the first time that Fairfield and Marist met, and the teams combined for 128 points.
In the last two home games that Marist played, they faced the top two defensive teams in the conference, according to adjusted defensive efficiency and scored 72 against St. Peter’s and 62 points in regulation against Manhattan. Overall, Marist is averaging 65.4 points in conference home games during regulation and allowing 65.6. Fairfield has allowed 65.8 points per conference road game this season while scoring just 56.2. Due to Marist and Fairfield being the two worst offensive teams in the conference who have also played at the slowest pace of any other teams in the MAAC, I expect some regression from the averages. Despite the poor overall numbers, the Red Foxes offense has been scoring the ball better recently than the team performed earlier this season. I am taking over the projected line, as I expect to see about 121 points in this game.
Prediction: Over 114.5