NEC Tournament: Wagner vs FDU Preview and Prediction
Wagner vs FDU Preview
The NEC Tournament tips-off tonight with an underrated mid-major matchup. The Wagner Seahawks (13-16, 8-10) come in as the No.7 seed, but this is a dangerous team that won the regular season title a year ago and was one win away from the NCAA Tournament last season (they lost to LIU Brooklyn in the conference final last season).
Fairleigh Dickinson (17-13, 12-6) comes in as the No.2 seed losing a tie-breaker to St. Francis U as both teams shared the regular season title. With 12 NEC wins the Knights have netted their highest total since the 2005-06 season. It looked like a lost season, but FDU overcame a 1-4 start in conference play and have now won 11 of their last 13 outings including their last five in a row.
Wednesday’s NEC quarterfinal round contest marks the 111th all-time meeting between the schools with Wagner holding a slim 56-54 edge in the long and competitive head-to-head series between schools separated by just 31 miles. These teams split their two meetings this season, each holding serve on its own home court. On January 12, the Seahawks earned a 66-60 win at the Spiro Sports Center. In the second meeting between these teams, on February 12 at the Rothman Center, the Knights defeated the Seahawks by a 74-66 count.
Who will step up?
For Wagner, it’s a one-man show. Redshirt senior guard Romone Saunders–the 6-3, 210-pound team captain from Temple Hills, MD led the Seahawks in scoring (16.7 ppg./4th in NEC), rebounding (7.2rpg./4th in NEC) assists (3.7/9th in NEC), steals (1.52/T4th in NEC), FT% (84.6/7th in NEC/4th all-time Wagner single season), 3-PT Made/Game (2.14/8th in NEC), and minutes played (34.6mpg/4th in NEC). In addition, Saunders hit for double figures in 26 games with six games of 20 or more points, headlined by a season-high 27-point outing vs. St. Francis Brooklyn (1/5).
FDU is led by an impressive duo–senior captains Darnell Edge (All-NEC First Team) and Mike Holloway Jr. (All-NEC Second Team) are looking to bookend their careers with another NEC title after taking home the championship as freshmen in 2015-16. Edge leads the NEC in both 3-pt FG% (47.6%) and FT% (87.9%). His 46.9 percent three-point clip is fourth best in the nation.
NEC Tournament Bracket
LINE: -6 FDU
Dan’s Bet: Over 134.5
I believe FDU will win this game outright and if you’re one of those guys who plays the money line parlay, FDU is the choice–but I’m staying away from the points in this game. When the teams played on FDU’s home court less than a month ago they combined for 140 points, I’ll take the OVER.
Score Prediction: FDU 74 Wagner 69