Record: 10-11 (6-4 NEC, T-3rd); Last game: Win at Fairleigh Dickinson, 80-71
KenPom Rank/RPI: 207/186
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Detrick Gym, New Britain, CT
History between teams: 34th meeting. Central Connecticut leads the all-time series, 18-15. LIU has won the last four meetings and seven of the last eight.
Who to watch for on Robert Morris:
#1 Kyle Vinales – 6’1″ – G – So. – 21.6 ppg/3.7 apg/42.6 FG%/81.8 FT% – Scored season-high 34 pts vs Robert Morris, scored 7 pts vs Fairleigh Dickinson in last game. NEC’s leading scorer.
#25 Matt Hunter – 6’5″ – G – Jr. – 16.2 ppg/7.5 apg/40.4 FG%/74.3 FT% – Scored career-high 40 pts vs Indiana, scored 16 pts vs Fairleigh Dickinson in last game.
#0 Adonis Burbage – 6’5″ – F – So. – 11.7 ppg/3.2 rpg/39.9 FG%/80.5 FT % – Scored career-high 25 pts vs Saint Peter’s, scored 24 pts vs Fairleigh Dickinson in last game.
Matchups to watch:
Kyle Vinales vs C.J. Garner: C.J. Garner will have a tough defensive assignment having to guard NEC top scorer Kyle Vinales. Vinales has scored in single digits just twice this entire season and he coming off his second-worst shooting game of the season. Vinales will look to rebound offensively so it will be up to Garner to try and contain him. Vinales is also coming off just playing 20 minutes, by far his lowest minutes played in a game this season. His previous low was 34. He should pretty fresh for this game.
The LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds look to get back on track after dropping a tough game at the Wellness Center last Saturday to Robert Morris. In doing so, LIU fell out of second place and are in a four-way tied for third. One of the teams they are tied with is Central Connecticut State. CCSU are winners of their last three games and are one of the NEC best offensive teams.
LIU and CCSU are ranked one and two respectively in scoring offense in the NEC. LIU is first in points per possession while CCSU is fourth. They are both also two of the faster paced teams in the NEC with CCSU ranked second and LIU ranked third. They both average above 70.8 possession a game. CCSU have two players in the top ten in scoring in the NEC and three in the top 20. LIU have two players in the top 20 in scoring.
CCSU is led by high-scoring ironman sophomore guard Kyle Vinales. He leads the NEC in scoring at 21.6 points per game. He also leads the NEC in minutes played at 37.9 minutes per game. In fact, this game features the top four players in the NEC in minutes played in Vinales (1st), Matt Hunter (3rd) and Malcolm McMillan (4th) for CCSU and Jason Brickman (2nd) for LIU. Vinales, has 13 20+ scoring games and ten games where he played the full game without being substituted including one 45 minute game. He has also made and attempted the most field goals of any player in the NEC. Most of his attempts are three pointers. He has attempted the second most three-pointers among NEC players. His 22.8 points per 40 minutes ranks him third in the conference.
Junior transfer Matt Hunter is CCSU’s second-leading scorer at 16.2 ppg. He leads the team in rebounding with 7.5 rebounds per game. He is also third in the NEC in field goals attempted. Hunter leads the conference in steals with 2.8 per game. Hunter has a 40-point game under his belt this season coming against then AP #1 Indiana. Sophomore Adonis Burbage is the third leading scorer for CCSU at 11.7 ppg. He has scored 20+ in the last two games. Add on point guard Malcolm McMillan and his 47.5% three-point shooting and you have a pretty good offensive team who played a ton of minutes.
Defensively, CCSU is nearly on par with what LIU Brooklyn has been doing this season. CCSU is ninth, LIU is tenth in the NEC in scoring defense. CCSU is seventh and LIU is ninth in points per possession allowed. Teams do shoot better against LIU’s defense than against CCSU’s. LIU allows an effective field goal percentage of 48.6% while CCSU allow 45.3% which are both in the bottom half of the NEC. They are also in the bottom half of the NEC in defensive three-point shooting percentage.
LIU’s 57 points scored last time out against Robert Morris is the lowest offensive point total for them this season just beating the 58 points they scored against Seton Hall. Although, the 60 points they allowed to RMU tied the lowest defensive point total they allowed this season.
LIU begins a stretch where they play the next three games away from the Wellness Center with two road games sandwiched with a game at the Barclays Center against neighborhood rival St. Francis Brooklyn.
Who’s hot for LIU? Jason Brickman. The nation’s second-leading assist man is coming off a career-high tying 19 points on 10 shots. He did only have four assists but those assists now tie him for first on the all-time LIU Brooklyn assist list and his next assist will give him first all to himself. In his last four games, he is averaging 11 ppg and 9.5 apg. Also hot is Jamal Olasewere. He is coming off his seventh double-double of the season vs RMU. His 18.6 ppg and 9.9 rpg in NEC games this season is third and second respectively.
Who’s not so hot? E.J. Reed. Reed after a outstanding six-game stretch starting from the Seton Hall game at the Barclays Center to the Mount St. Mary’s also at the Barclays, has cooled off since setting a career-high 21 points vs MSM. Reed is averaging just 6.1 ppg and 3.8 rpg and that’s including a 15 point game and an a 8 rebound game in the mix. Foul trouble continues to be his main culprit but he is coming off a 0 point, 2 rebound in 15 minutes effort vs RMU on Saturday. LIU will need to see get back going again and get back to being a high energy guy off the bench.
Both teams like to score so it is going to be up to LIU to try and slow down the CCSU attack especially from outside. Vinales, Hunter and Burbage love to shoot the three so LIU needs to defend the three-point arc, something they have struggled with many times this season. If LIU can slow them down from outside and limit CCSU second-chances, LIU can come out of it with a win. LIU will need continue to win the battle of the boards and limit turnovers to prevent CCSU from getting easy points in transition. LIU should have some open looks from outside and will need to rebound from their rough three-point shooting game vs RMU where they went 3 for 17.
Ken Pomeroy’s Game Projection:
Ken Pomeroy on his website has Central Connecticut beating LIU Brooklyn by a projected score of 86-81 with a 65% probability of a CCSU win.
The Blackbirds returns to Brooklyn to play their final game at the Barclays Center this season on Sunday, February 10 against the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers. Tip is scheduled for noon.