A trip to the NCAA Tournament hangs in the balance for the winner of the Sun Belt Conference tournament. A one-team league the winner of the championship game between the Georgia State Panthers and Appalachian State Mountaineers will go dancing as the league’s automatic qualifier. App State won its two games in overtime to reach the title tilt taking down top-seeded Texas State in the quarterfinals and surviving Coastal Carolina in the semis. Georgia State takes an eight-game winning streak into the matchup and has the highest NET ranking in the Sun Belt. Bookmaker.eu offers a generous CASH welcome bonus (max CASH bonus $1600)
Georgia State Panthers vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers
Date and Time: Monday, March 8, 2021, 7 p.m. ET
Location: Pensacola Bay Center, Pensacola, FL
Opening College Basketball Odds: Georgia State -7
Georgia State vs. Appalachian State TV Coverage: ESPN2
Their record wasn’t as glossy as other teams in the league, but Georgia State is the favorite of the computers. The Panthers played the fewest games of any Sun Belt team but they closed with a flurry winning their final six regular season games before taking down Arkansas State and Louisiana in the first two tournament games. They are 6-2 ATS in that span. The Panthers opened the season with a shocking 123-120 overtime win over Georgia Tech and are currently 16-5 SU and 11-8 ATS. App State underachieved most of the season but they caught fire at the right time. Losers in six of their last seven regular season games, including a 14-point setback to Georgia State, the Mountaineers got going just in time for the tournament. They beat Arkansas-Little Rock, Texas State and Coastal Carolina, the last two in overtime, while covering the spread in all three.
Georgia State Panthers
The Panthers dealt with a lot of adversity during the season. A number of their games were canceled due to COVID and they played just 19 regular season games. It’s hard to build chemistry when the season gets interrupted and shutdown on several different occasions. But apparently it just made them stronger and more resilient. As the top-seed in the Eastern Division, the Panthers didn’t have to play in the first round. They narrowly edged Arkansas State in the quarters getting double-figures in points from five players led by 17 from Justin Roberts. The balance and depth carried the club through the lengthy COVID delays.
Without a lot of defense the Panthers have to outdo everyone on the other end of the floor. They’ve been good doing that with an average of 81 points per game with five players averaging at least 10.5 points. Corey Allen led the team in scoring during the regular season with 14.9 points per game while Justin Roberts and Kane Williams each averaged over 13 points. GSU won the last meeting between the teams 85-71 but they dropped the first two to App State back in January failing to cover the 5-point spread in each game.
Appalachian State Mountaineers
App State has been living on the edge and they are either going to fall off or climb higher. The Mountaineers lost six of seven games to close the regular year with their only win coming in overtime against Georgia Southern. Two of their three wins so far in the tournament also came in OT. And they go about things opposite of how Georgia State works. App State relies on a defense that allows just 64 points per game while holding opponents to 32 percent shooting from behind the arc.
They pulled off a stunning victory against Texas State in the quarterfinals squandering an eight-point lead with 32 seconds remaining only to win in the extra session. Leading scorer Justin Forrest made 14 of 17 free throws and totaled 28 points. He and Adrian Delph make up a lethal tandem that’s tough for anybody to defend. It was the defense holding GSU to 61 and 71 points in a pair of earlier meetings that the Mountaineers won and covered in. In the third contest GSU scored 85 points and App State couldn’t keep up. It’s obvious what the Mountaineers need to do in order to get a win.
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App State got hot at the right time, but their luck is about to run out. The Mountaineers are playing their fourth game in four nights with two of the previous three going into extra time. That normally wouldn’t be a big deal for a bunch of kids, but when the games are as stressful as they were it does leave a mark. And Georgia State is too good to blow this opportunity.
College Basketball Score Prediction: Georgia State 78, Appalachian State 69
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