The SoCon gauntlet begins tomorrow evening for Appalachian. Seventeen straight games against conference opponents. On Tuesday, Appalachian resumes conference play against Wofford, who like Appalachian, is 0-1 in SoCon play. Both teams really need a win, perhaps Wofford even more so. If the Terriers want to contend in the SoCon South, they will need to keep pace with Davidson, who they have already lost to in early December.
Wofford grabbed the attention of college basketball before Christmas with a one point win on the road at Xavier. Prior to that, the Terriers had lost to some mid-majors that they should have competed with better than they did. Wofford put up some ugly point totals against UNCW (37), Gardner Webb (54) and Ohio (50). However that is Wofford’s style, a Princeton-esque offense that utilizes the shot clock and plays a slow down game, very similar to their football team and the wingbone. Honestly, they are a boring team to scout and watch because they have a team of players whose skill levels are not that far apart from top to bottom, and they play together.
Regardless, the Terriers are 3-0 at home this season, with wins over Winhrop and Gardner Webb and a non-D I win over Weber Intl. The rest of their eleven games have been on the road. Wofford has only scored 87 points their last two games, but Appalachian might be exactly what they are looking for. The Mountaineer defense has been bad all year, mostly in transition. Wofford prefers the halfcourt game, so the Mountaineers may have a small edge in that category. Even though Wofford is scoring in small bunches, they have three players averaging in double figures. Karl Cochran leads the team with 16.1 points per game, and has hit 42 three pointers this season. Lee Skinner averages 10.9 points and 6.9 rebounds while Spencer Collins scores 10.7 per game with 27 made threes. The scary thing for the SoCon, is that all three are underclassmen, with at least two more years to play. They are young, and will make mistakes, and be out of position on defense, but they are still solid.
The early spread says that the Mountaineers are ten point underdogs on the road. This is exactly what we have been looking for all season when picking a game. The Mountaineers are a perfect 7-0 this season against the spread, and I doubt this game stays so high. Appalachian is one everyone’s radar in Vegas, and I bet this line could move as much as 1.5 points before the game tips off. We will update with a line in the morning. In the meantime, we are gonna stay on Appalachian at +10.
UPDATE: Our main book that we use opened this morning at +8 and in two hours it has moved back to +9. It is very likely this line moves again, and I think it could go either way, but I would think towards 9.5.
UPDATE II: Just a couple hours before tipoff, the line moved again to 9.5, but it was shortlived as the line closed at +9 before tipoff. We have no reason to change our pick and we will stay with the Mountaineers.
Postgame: It was not a pretty game, but it was effective. Sometimes you have to win ugly, and any time you win on the road in conference play it is a big plus. Appalachian won its third straight game with a 50-49 win over Wofford on Tuesday night. The Mountaineers led by one at halftime, and overcame a seven point deficit with seven minutes to play the secure the victory.
Opening the second half, Appalachian went on a 11-3 run to lead 36-27 before Wofford called a timeout with 17:15 to play. From there, Wofford responded with a 20-4 run that spanned the next nine minutes of the ball game to take a seven point lead with 8:29 to play. Appalachian rallied to score ten of the final twelve points of the game to hold on for the win. Wofford failed to score for the final 6:57 of the game while the Mountaineers took their time scoring the final eight points of the game.
Nathan Healy was the star of the game for Appalachian with 10 points, five rebounds and several altered shots that did not make it to the official scorer. Healy says he blocked three shots, despite only being credited for one. Tevin Baskin came off the bench to score 10 points and grab four rebounds, including a huge blocked shot with under a minute to play. Jay Canty chipped in with eight points and nine rebounds.
For the seventh straight lined game, we were able to correctly make the right play against the spread. Our record is 7-1 on the season, while the Mountaineers have covered every game that has been lined. That mark is the best in college basketball. The closest team to Appalachian’s 8-0 record against the spread is Gardner-Webb, who is 3-0. All the moving of the line prior to the game proved to be a moot statistic as Appalachian also won straight up in a lined game for only the second time this season. Next up for Appalachian is Elon on Saturday, and I expect the Mountaineers to once again be underdogs, maybe by as many as six points. I could see the line being as low as 3.5