Line opened at 5, favoring the Mountaineers, and has dropped throughout the morning, now down to 3.5. This is free money today. If this line keeps dropping, or even settles back to 4, the Mountaineers are the play here. I was lukewarm on Chattanooga at +5.
The season was basically on the line, and Appalachian responded in a way they had not all season long. Appalachian could not miss in the first half, scoring a season high 55 points in the first half that included nine three pointers. The Mountaineers cruised in the second half as Chattanooga never really threatened. The Mountaineers were led by their outgoing seniors who played their last game in the Holmes Center. Jamaal Trice scored 13 points in his final home game, where Appalachian donned black uniforms for the first time in the thirteen year history of the Holmes Center. Nathan Healy scored 20 points and grabbed fourteen rebounds on his senior day. Healy was emotional in an awestruck way while trying to find out how she acknowledge the just over 2100 fans in attendance.
To imagine the journey that Nathan Healy went on these past fours years is inspiring. He was a freshman on the 2009-2010 team that was one game short of advancing to the NCAA tournament after losing to Wofford in the SoCon championship game in Charlotte. Healy had only played in thirty career games entering his senior season, and had only started in eleven of those games. Healy had scored 367 points in his first three years in the black and gold. This season, Healy scored 422 points. He inserted himself at the leader of the team from the first game to the last, and will always be remembered on the mountain. Healy started every game this season, leading the team in scoring, rebounds, field goals made, three pointers made, blocks, steals, and free throw percentage.
Although Appalachian earned the fourth seed and a bye in the SoCon tourney, their road is difficult without upsets. Appalachian could face Davidson if the higher seeds win their games, and Davidson provides the worst matchup in the conference for Appalachian. On the flip side, no team has ever won four games in four days in the oldest conference tournament in the nation. The Mountaineers may have given themselves a tougher road to a championship, however, it is one that will require fewer games to play.
We finished 15-9 picking against the spread in Appalachian games this season to date. Appalachian was also 15-9, as there were two games where I did not take the Mountaineers, and went 1-1 in those games. Those alternating picks evened out which provided the equal records. Last season we finished 10-14 during the regular season, which is marked improvement from one year to the next. Our season review and tournament preview will be posted later this week.