Villanova’s Eric Dixon, left, and Hartford’s Moses Flowers reach for a loose ball in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
- The 2-2 Hartford Hawks go for the season sweep when they host the 0-3 Fairfield Stags on Dec. 7
- The Hawks, led by Moses Flowers’ game-high 20 points, beat the Stags 66-61 on Dec. 2
- Read below for odds, analysis, and our best bet for this matchup between Fairfield and Hartford
An America East-Metro Atlantic matchup stands out amid a Monday slate bereft of truly big games. The 2-2 Hartford Hawks host the 0-3 Fairfield Stags at the Chase Family Arena in West Hartford at 4pm ET.
The Hawks will go for the season sweep over the Stags after winning the first contest between the teams 66-61 last Wednesday, Dec. 2. Moses Flowers scored a game-high 20 points in the five-point victory.
Fairfield vs Hartford Odds
|Fairfield||+2.5 (-110)||+122||Ov 131.5 (-114)|
|Hartford||-2.5 (-110)||-144||Un 131.5 (-106)|
Odds taken Dec. 6 at FanDuel
Hartford Back On Track
Following a pair of predictable season-opening losses to Big East powers Connecticut and Villanova, John Gallagher’s Hawks have righted the ship in their last two outings. Hartford knocked off Fairfield last week, then took care of Central Connecticut State 80-65 in their home opener.
Meantime, Fairfield is still seeking its first victory of the season. After the Stags dropped their opener to Providence 97-56, Jay Young’s club had one game canceled (Sacred Heard) and another postponed (an eventual overtime loss to Stony Brook) to go along with that defeat to Hartford.
“Moses Flowers” might be my new favorite name in college basketball rn 🌸 🌺
— Harrison Farber (@HairyHarry33) December 1, 2020
Hartford has been an above-average team the last three seasons under Gallagher, but the program is still seeking its first 20-win season in history. Could this be the year the Hawks reach the plateau? If Flowers continues his solid start, it could happen.
As for the Stags, Young’s squad is trying to avoid a third-straight 20-loss campaign. The Stags were dominated by the Friars in the opener, but lost in OT to Stony Brook after that narrow home loss to the Hawks.
Final in OT
— Fairfield Men’s Basketball (@FairfieldMBB) December 4, 2020
Jesus Cruz had a team-high 18 points in that 72-69 loss to the Seawolves and has led the team in scoring so far through their first three games. Balanced scoring has been the key for the Stags. The team boasts four players averaging double figures. That balance will be on display Monday as 2.5-point underdogs.
Blossoming Before Our Eyes
Moses Flowers, the player with one of the great names in college hoops, is more than just a great headline. The sophomore guard is averaging 15.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and nearly three steals per a game through his team’s first four outings.
Flowers has connected on 32% of the 25 3-pointers he’s attempted this season and has gone 6-for-18 over his last three games. He’s also made 70.6% of his free throws this season.
Austin Williams has also been a big contributor, accounting for 10 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. If the pair can continue their solid start, look for the Hawks to fly high over the Stags again — and perhaps make history for a program that has never reached the NCAA Tournament.
Jesus Cruz is probably Fairfield’s best player. But the senior guard isn’t the only Stag averaging double-figures this season. Taj Benning, Caleb Green and Jalen Leach are all right behind Cruz in the scoring department and have each had their moments early on this season. Of course, Fairfield’s final possession against Stony Brook is one it would like to forget.
There’s no doubt that play was a big topic of discussion in the locker room postgame, as well as in practice leading into Monday’s rematch with Hartford.
Last Wednesday’s loss was a close one. If the Stags can manage slightly better efficiency — and remember what the score is — I expect a another nail-biter in Round Two.
Hartford has made nearly eight 3-pointers per game this season, which is second-best among America East teams. In a matchup split as evenly as this one, the Hawks’ ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc may end up being the difference.
Ken Pom has these teams separated by only three spots in overall ratings (Hartford is No. 283, Fairfield is No. 286). So, while the Stags have the revenge and the desperation factor, I’m going with the home team and the more dynamic star in Flowers.
The pick: Hartford -2.5 (-110)
Blair Johnson is a veteran journalist and seasoned sports content creator. He has been writing and producing content as long as he can remember, with such familiar names as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo. Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.