Tonight college basketball fans get an early start on March Madness as the first conference tournament gets underway. The first round of the ASUN tournament will tip off tonight with two games, and we’ll preview the games while going over my best plays for each of them.
FGCU and Queens will enter tonight with the same regular season and conference records. The only difference is tonight will be the first postseason game in Queens Royals’ division one tenure. They have nothing to lose this tournament due to transitionary period rules, even if they win the entire they are ineligible for the NCAA tournament.
The Royals ended the regular season by going 4-6 in their last ten games, but in that span, they were able to pick up a win on the road against first-place Kennesaw State. Since they run at the 46th fastest tempo in the country, the Royals have relied primarily on their offense to carry them this season.
In the one meeting between these two teams earlier in the season, Queens was able to walk away with an 84-82 victory at home. Despite being outshot from the field and from three, the Royals got to the free-throw line 26 times in the game and knocked down 20 of them.
The Eagles finished their last ten games of the regular season with a 3-7 record, and that was in large part due to their defensive play. On the season, FGCU ranks 216th in defensive efficiency rating according to KenPom, as opponents managed an average effective field goal percentage of 51.1% against them.
Pick for the Game: I’ll be taking the Queens Royals (-2) for my play in this one. Neither team has been good ATS this season, but FGCU is 0-7-1 in their last eight games against a team with a straight-up winning record. I think the Royals have the better ability to close out games, and with them ranking 13th in second-half points per game, I like their chances more at the end of a close shootout.
Last year's conference champions, the Bellarmine Knights, will start their long road to a repeat tonight against a North Florida team that they just lost to on Friday night. The Knights went 9-9 in conference play this season and finished the regular season going 5-5 over their last ten games. Bellarmine runs at the 7th slowest pace in all of college basketball, and that has worked both for them and against them this season.
The problem for the Knights has come when opposing teams force them to play at a faster tempo, much like North Florida was able to do on Friday. North Florida walked away with a 79-67 win over the Knights, as they attempted 62 field goal attempts, while the Knights only attempted 49. Teams have found a lot of success from three-point range against the Knights this season, and the Osprey proved that by shooting 50% from three on 24 attempts.
Despite their 14-16 record, the Osprey finished their last ten games on a positive note as they went 6-4 in that span. There is denying they are an offensive-minded team since they rank 86th in offensive efficiency and 346th in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.
I’ll be targeting the point total for my play in this one, as I’ll be taking over 140.5. In the two meetings between these two teams, the over hit in both games, and in their last ten games this entering tonight, the over is a combined 12-8.
North Florida wants to win the game on the offensive end and allowed the Knights to shoot 53% from the field in their last matchup. Between that and Bellarmine allowing an average of 9.6 made threes per game, I like the over to continue to be profitable when these teams match up.
Bellarmine vs. North Florida Over 140.5