New Hampshire vs Niagara Preview and Prediction
New Hampshire vs Niagara Preview
The Niagara Purple Eagles (3-4) are coming off a program-boosting victory over ACC member Pittsburgh on Monday. The New Hampshire Wildcats (2-6) on the other hand, are looking to stop the bleeding as the team lost their sixth straight game on Tuesday night.
UNH has a 5-13 lifetime record against Niagara University; the first 17 meetings occurred between the 1980-81 and 1988-89 seasons, when both programs were members of the North Atlantic Conference (now called America East).
New Hampshire is yet to win a game on the road this season, five of their six losses have come away from home. A lot of that has to do with the inconsistency of the lineups–14th-year head coach Bill Herrion has not used the same starting lineup in consecutive games the past seven games. The Wildcats have used six different lineups this year.
Only two of UNH’s nine game have been decided by fewer than 20 points. A lot of that has to do with their schedule, they played at UMass, UConn and Seton Hall, but this team is going to struggle this season.
The Wildcats were picked to finish in second-last place of the America East, mainly due to the young players they were going to feature this season…
Freshmen Jayden Martinez (9.1), Nick Guadarrama (8.0 ppg) and Marque Maultsby (6.9) rank 4-6 on the team in scoring. Martinez is atop UNH’s leaderboard in field goal percentage at 50.0 percent and he leads the ‘Cats in rebounding at 5.6 per game; Guadarrama is third (4.6 rpg) and Maultsby is tied for fourth (3.3).
Avoiding the letdown
Niagara hasn’t shown to beat Power Five schools often, the 71-70 victory over Pitt was the first win over a major conference opponent since beating South Florida, 70-55, on December 14, 2008.
Sophomore Keleaf Tate was crucial to his team in the win. He had career-highs in points (17) and rebounds (7), stepping up for a team that was missing their leading scorer and rebounder, Marvin Prochet, who missed his third straight game.
Senior Dominic Robb was his usual dominate inside-presence blocking four more shots–he continues to lead the nation in blocks with four blocks per game. He added 12 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Overall, it was a total team effort and dominant display in all areas: Niagara forced a season-high 18 turnovers, outrebounded the Panthers (38-31), outscored Pitt in the paint (28-20), in second chance points (14-2) and in bench points (22-17).
The key now is not to have a let-down against a struggling team on your own home court. Head coach Chris Casey needs to stay on his guys, move on from this victory avoiding the proverbial ‘trap game’.
UNH is going to struggle all season long–they have a young team that features four freshman with prominent playing time. While the future may be bright for the Wildcats, they haven’t looked competitive in most games this season.
I don’t envision NU having a let-down of this capacity to lose in front of their home crowd. How they start the game will be telling to see just how focused they are off of that win over the Panthers.
Niagara 83 New Hampshire 66