The Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers and the Bryant Bulldogs meet Tuesday in college basketball action from Chace Athletic Center.
Mount St. Mary’s enters this Northeast Conference Tournament matchup at 11-10 so far. The Mountaineers have won three straight, most recently over Wagner. As for Bryant, they’re 15-5 this season. The Bulldogs have won five straight and took out Sacred Heart
The No. 2 seeded Bryant University Bulldogs are in unfamiliar territory on multiple fronts as they prepare to host the fourth-seeded Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers on Tuesday in the 2021 Northeast Conference Tournament championship game at Smithfield, R.I. The Bulldogs (15-5) not only will be seeking their first conference title and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament that goes with it, but they also will be up against an opponent they did not face during the regular season. The Mountaineers (11-10) upset top-seeded Wagner to advance to the NEC title game for the eighth time in school history.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET at the Chace Athletic Center. William Hill Sportsbook lists the Bulldogs as 6.5-point favorites in the latest Bryant vs. Mount St. Mary’s odds while the over-under for total points scored is set at 133. Before making any Mount St. Mary’s vs. Bryant picks, be sure to see the college basketball predictions and betting advice from SportsLine’s proven model.
The Northeast Conference finals will be played on Tuesday night to determine who will get its ticket to go dancing in the NCAA Tournament.
Bryant has been the team to beat all season with its fast-tempo offense, and that still remains heading into the championship.
Mount St. Mary’s upset Wagner in the semifinals and will be looking to do the same against the No. 2 seed Bulldogs.
These two teams were scheduled to meet in a doubleheader to end the season, but that was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test in the Bryant program. Those cancellations ultimately cost the Bulldogs their chance at a No. 1 seed, which then was captured by Wagner.
Bryant’s postseason was then in jeopardy until Rhode Island’s Department of Health cleared the Bulldogs to continue play.
They were forced to play with only seven players dressed, along with a football player and a team manager who suited up. The seven-man rotation blew out Sacred Heart, 85-55, and the Mount’s upset over Wagner will give Bryant home-court advantage in the final.
Bryant | (15-5, 10-4 Northeast)
The Bulldogs were forced to play the NEC semifinals with just seven scholarship players. Chris Childs, Nathaniel Stokes, and Michael Green lll were all held out of the game due to COVID-19 protocols.
Green averaged 16.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.9 assists while Childs scores 14.1 points per game. Those three players contributed to 38.2% of Bryant’s total points on the season. In addition, they’re three of Bryant’s top shooters from the outside.
Although the Bulldogs shoot the highest percentage from 3-point range, they relied on driving to the basket to beat Sacred Heart. They converted on 63.6% of their 55 field goal attempts including 7-for-17 from outside the arc. With just a seven-man roster, the Bulldogs still dismantled Sacred Heart by 30 points by playing with a chip on their shoulder.
Bryant finished the season 15-5 and played with the fastest tempo in NEC games. It gets to the free-throw line on 36.6% of its shot attempts, more than any other team. It leads the Northeast in scoring at 79.9 points, while the Mount is at the bottom of the conference at 64.2 points per game.
Defensively, the Mountaineers allow just 60.7 points compared to Bryant’s 73.6 per game.
It’s hard to imagine that just three years ago, Bryant finished with a 3-28 record. Things have really turned around for the program, which is now the team to beat in the NEC.
This has been the Bulldogs’ tournament to lose since the beginning, and if the first game was any indication, they’re prepared to go dancing in the NCAA Tournament.
Mount St. Mary’s | (11-10, 9-7 Northeast)
The Mountaineers play the exact opposite style as Bryant with the 356th tempo in the country, ahead of only Virginia.
They rank 332nd in the country in points per game and sit at 16th in points allowed, according to Sports Reference.
Jalen Gibbs was the leading scorer for this team averaging 16.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game before opting out for the season in early December over concerns of the coronavirus.
The Mount responded by going 9-7 the rest of the season. Damian Chong Qui, a 5-foot-8 point guard, took the lead role for the Mountaineers, averaging 14.9 points, 5.5 assists, and 4.0 rebounds.
The Mount upset Wagner, 66-60, in the semifinals of the NEC Tournament on Saturday. Although it averaged just 47 points in the two regular-season matchups against Wagner, it hit 47.8% from the field the third time around.
Getting to the free-throw line 27 times helped contribute to 19 of its 66 points.
One big issue for the Mount was its sloppiness with the basketball, turning it over 18 times, something it will have to clean up if it wants to have a chance of beating the Bulldogs.
The Mountaineers leaned on their 16th-ranked defense to win that game by holding the Seahawks to just 36.1% from the field on their 61 shot attempts.