No. 2 Seed Wagner Rolls into NEC Final
Charles Pride made seven free throws in the final 4:03, including one as time expired, to lift top-seeded Bryant Bulldogs past Mount St. Mary’s in the semifinals. Meanwhile, the No. 2 seed Wagner Seahawks won their two tournament games by an average of 24½ points.
Bryant has needed to adjust on the fly as fifth-leading scorer Chris Childs hasn’t played since Jan. 21 and Grant Coleman has been sidelined since mid-December. Wagner has been without the services of third-leading scorer Elijah Ford for a month.
Bryant is first and Wagner second in the conference in scoring offense while the places are reversed in the scoring margin category.
The Bulldogs are 13-1 at home and come into the game as the slight favorite.
There are some conferences where the March Madness predictions can be challenging, but this is not one of them. Jerry Palm’s bracketology on the CBS Sports site has the NEC tournament champion slotted in as a No. 16 seed.
Wagner is 120th and Bryant 215th in the NCAA NET rankings, which is a tool helpful with March Madness predictions.
Morales Doing it all for Wagner
Alex Morales also had a long list of accomplishments during his time at Wagner, but he has taken his game and production to a new level in the Northeast Conference tournament.
It started in the quarterfinals when Morales had a triple-double (11 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) with no turnovers in an 82-53 win over Saint Francis (Pa.). In the semifinals, Morales had 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists in an 82-62 win over Long Island University as Wagner advanced to the NEC title game for the sixth time.
ICYMI – An early run in the 1st half helped propel #️⃣2️⃣ @wagner_mbb past #️⃣3️⃣ LIU on Semifinal Saturday. The Seahawks will be making the program’s 3rd #NECMBB Tournament title game appearance under HC Bashir Mason.
— Northeast Conference (@necbbt) March 7, 2022
Morales has scored in double figures in each of his last 15 games, including seven 20-point efforts and a 35-point performance in an overtime win against LIU. He is the 13th player in NEC history with at least 1000 points, 500 rebounds and 250 assists.
Morales averaged 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists per game in two games against Bryant, which stands between the Seahawks and their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2003. The March Madness odds would not be in Wagner’s favor, but after not making the tournament in nearly 20 years, there won’t be any complaints.
Wagner covered against the college basketball spreads in both tournament games after finishing the regular season by going 3-6-1 ATS in its last 10 games.
Bryant Looks to Seal NCAA Berth With a Kiss
Bryant’s Peter Kiss has a chance to join players like Stephen Curry, Adam Morrison, Hersey Hawkins and Xavier McDaniel as players on teams outside the Power-5 conferences who won the NCAA Division I men’s scoring title. He is currently sitting atop the list of top scorers at 24.7 points per game.
However, there is another goal that is of more importance at the current time.
The Bryant men’s basketball program has appeared in seven NCAA tournaments from 1978-2008 but all of them came at the Division II level, including a run to the 2005 national title game. Now the Bulldogs are a win away from their first spot in the Division I tournament.
Bryant was also in this position last season but the Bulldogs lost to Mount St. Mary’s in the NEC final.
Kiss, who began his career at Quinnipiac and played two seasons at Rutgers before landing at Bryant, has jumped from averaging 16.6 points to nearly 25 a game this season. During Bryant’s current six-game winning streak, he is averaging 27.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists.
Bryant is listed as the favorite by the Las Vegas odds for the ninth game in a row.
Wagner vs Bryant Head-to-Head
Bryant has won seven of the last eight games against Wagner, including a 78-70 win at home on Feb. 26. The Bulldogs have covered in each of those seven wins.
Each of the last three games in the series has been decided by eight points or less. Five of the last six games in the series went under the total.
Wagner did win the first matchup of the season 84-81 at home on Jan. 6.
Wagner vs Bryant Game Information
- Game: Wagner (24-9) vs Bryant (21-9)
- Location: Chace Athletic Center, Smithfield, RI
- Day/Time: Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET
- Television: ESPN2
Wagner vs Bryant Betting Lines
Wagner vs Bryant Prediction
Don’t be looking for 3-pointers to be coming at a fast and furious pace since the teams rank at the bottom of the NEC in 3-point percentage. Bryant connectis on only 30.7 percent of its 3-pointers and Wagner comes in at 29.2 percent.
If there is a category that most favors Wagner, it could be turnover margin, with the Seahawks second in the conference at +2.96 and Bryant ninth at +180.
Something to consider for those who bet online: Each of the last three games went under the total for both Bryant and Wagner.