LIU Gameday Preview – Game 29 (NEC Game 18) – Sacred Heart

Opponent: Sacred Heart

Record: 14-16 (Last game: W vs Fairleigh Dickinson, 90-85
KenPom Ranking: 230
Tip-Off Time: 3:30pm
Location: William H. Pitt Center – Fairfield, CT
Media Game Coverage: Online: NEC Front Row
Meeting History: 29th all-time meeting. LIU Brooklyn leads the series 19-9. LIU won the first meeting  LIU has won three straight and eight out of the last nine vs Sacred Heart.

Projected Starting Lineups:

LIU Brooklyn: Elvar Friðriksson (G), Gerrell Martin (G), Martin Hermannsson (G), Landon Atterberry (F), Nura Zanna (F)

Sacred Heart: Phil Gaetano (G), Cane Broome (G), Evan Kelley (G), De’von Barnett (F), Tevin Falzon (F),

What’s At Stake:

Today’s game is pretty much a game in which the winner get to avoid having to play St. Francis Brooklyn on Wednesday night in the first round of the NEC tournament.

For LIU, a win would mean they could be no worse than the 7-seed and thus avoiding the Terriers in round one. The Blackbirds still have a chance to be as high as a 5-seed if they win and both Saint Francis U. and Wagner losses. If LIU wins and either SFU or Wagner wins and the other losses, LIU gets the 6-seed. A loss for LIU and they get the 8-seed.

For Sacred Heart, they can be the 6-seed with just a win against LIU. If they lose, they avoid an 8-seed by Wagner losing to Mount St. Mary’s.

Opponent Watch:

– Three Pioneers players average over 10 points per game in freshman Cane Broome (13.9 ppg), senior Evan Kelley (13.8 ppg) and De’von Barnett (10.7 ppg). Kelley and Broome have near similar stat lines of 13 ppg/4 rpg/2.4 apg.

– Senior Jordan Allen is the Pioneers’ leading rebounder at 7.6 rebounds per game. He is also their fourth leading scorer at 9.1 ppg.

– Senior Phil Gaetano is tied with SFBK’s Brent Jones as the NEC number-one assist man at 5.3 assists per game.

– Three SHU players are shooting above 30% from three, led by senior Steve Glowiak’s 35.4 3FG%.

– Sacred Heart has won five of their last seven games including wins over Wagner, Bryant and Robert Morris. Their 14 regular season wins is the most since 2011-12 season in which they finished 14-18.

– The Pioneers are fourth in the NEC in offensive efficiency with 104.9 points per 100 possessions. They are in the top half of the NEC is efficient field goal percentage, turnover percentage and offensive rebounding percentage.

– Pioneers in conference, make a third of their three-pointers and half of their two-point shots. They are last in the NEC in free throw shooting percentage at 60.8%. They are also last in the conference in steal percentage.

– 21.7% of their points come from behind the arc which is last in the NEC and just 26.6% of their shots are from three. They like to play more inside.

– They are first in the NEC in scoring offense at 73 ppg. They are also last in the NEC in scoring defense at 73.4 ppg allowed.

LIU Spotlight: 

LIU will need a someone, anyone to have a big game. Over the last three games, all losses, LIU hasn’t had a player score over 12 points. They haven’t had more than two starters score in double figure in that span.

One player who has struggle of late once again has been freshman Elvar Friðriksson. Although Friðriksson is averaged eight points per game over the last three games. He has really struggled with his assist-to-turnover ratio. He has 4 assists to 13 turnovers over the last three games with eight turnovers alone coming against St. Francis Brooklyn.

He is also shooting 35% from the field during this latest losing streak and 3 for 11 from three. Due to his struggles, his playing time has been cut down to 23.6 minutes per game over the last three games.

For LIU to get the win on the road, they are going to need Friðriksson to repeat his performance he had the first time against the Pioneers where he finished with 18 points and 7 assists in LIU’s overtime win. In every game Friðriksson has scored at least 14 points this season, LIU is 6-0.

LIU’s Keys to the Game:

– Need to put points on the scoreboard: SHU will put up the points. LIU has been struggling with the offense over the last three games. LIU needs to good shooting game and have to keep up scoring-wise with Pioneers who are the NEC’s best offensive team.

– Protect the ball: LIU absolutely can’t turn the ball over as much as they have of late. They are averaging 20 turnovers per game in the last three games. 20 turnovers against the Pioneers will likely equal a loss and a visit to Brooklyn Heights on Wednesday.

– Hit the boards: Sacred Heart is a strong offensive rebounding team and are one of the better defensive rebounding teams in the NEC so LIU is going to need to fight hard on the glass to win this important game within the game.

LIU Injury Report:

Freshman Jamil Hood missed Thursday’s night game vs St. Francis Brooklyn with an injury ankle. He was wearing a walking boot. He likely will be a game-time decision if he will dress and be available.

KenPom Game Prediction: Sacred Heart, 76-69. LIU win probability: 25%.

Next Up: 

LIU Brooklyn head into the NEC tournament on Wednesday, March 4th at 7pm. The opponent and location for that NEC quarterfinal game will be known around 6pm on Saturday.

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