The Army Black Knights will look to be the first team to figure out Merrimack’s defense. With a fast-paced offense, can the Black Knights crack the code?
Let’s see what the NCAAB odds tell us for this matchup.
Merrimack College Warriors vs. Army Black Knights
Wednesday, November 17, 2021 – 06:00 PM EST at Christl Arena
The Merrimack College Warriors have made an insane transition into Division 1 after going 9-9 in divisional play last season. That was good for the middle of the conference and stunned lots of NEC critics. Now they’ll take their talents to West Point, NY to take on Army with a 2-1 record this year. Army is a fast tempo offense that beat my Hartford Hawks and lost to Duke.
Not much to go off of, but last season, the Black Knights upset La Salle, Buffalo and nearly defeated Florida as a 20+ point underdog. The Black Knights were also the only team to beat Colgate in the Patriot League last season. If you were following the Patriot league last year, the whole league was a disaster due to COVID protocol. But Army held their own.
Army's up-tempo offense will be huge against a very good Merrimack defense. Merrimack has held NJIT to 54 points and Rutgers to 48 points this season and have been stellar defensively. However, they’re not rebounding their own misses. Still, while some of it is poor/unlucky shooting, they've also been able to force turnovers and bad shots.
Merrimack is only rebounding 17.1 percent of their missed shots on offense, however, and have the 300th rated offensive efficiency in the nation via KenPom. While Merrimack is forcing tough shots, they're also taking brutal shots. Inside the arc, Merrimack is shooting 35.7 percent and from long range, they're shooting 27.1 percent.
Army likes to pack it in and defend the paint. They'll allow Merrimack to shoot. Knowing how poor of a rebounding team the College Warriors is, there's a good chance that Merrimack goes one-and-done. On these long rebounds, Army will want to get out on the break and beat Merrimack down the court so they can get easy points against a very tough defense.
The longer Army waits to attack, the harder it's going to be to score against Merrimack. So look for Army to push the tempo off misses and score in transition as much as they can. Army also shoots a lot of three balls themselves and have hit 31.5 percent from long range this year. They're also 52.9 percent inside the arc, which is above average and respectable.
At home, I fully expect Army to win the boards, shoot better, and pack it in against Merrimack on the defensive end, which again, will lead to long rebounds and transition buckets the other way before Merrimack gets set on the defensive end.
Josh Caldwell is back with Army for his senior season - he's the reigning Patriot Defensive Player of the Year. So while we'll hear all this talk about Merrimack's defense, Caldwell and Army have been fine defensively too and should shine against a really poor offense and that's why I like the Black Knights to win outright for my NCAAB pick.
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