The Citadel is not your average six win team. Even though three of their wins came in 2012, the Bulldogs have knocked off three SoCon teams this season. All of those SoCon opponents came from the weak South Division, and by using the transitive property, all of teams Citadel has beaten, Appalachian has also defeated. Of their SoCon wins, Georgia Southern is athletic, but a poor team overall, Wofford is terribly young, and Furman is about as untalented as it gets in the conference. The Bulldogs are also 2-10 on the road this season, with two of those wins coming in Statesboro and Greenville. In fact the Bulldogs have not won a game this season played north of the NC/SC border.
Although the Bulldogs are a tough team to scout, they do stick to a zone defense and like to get the ball inside. Rarely do you see a strategy in college basketball, where on one side of the court, you try to slow the game down, and on the other, try to lenghthen the game by drawing fouls in the frontcourt. Three Citadel players average in double figures, led by Mike Groselle, scoring 15.1 points per game, while also pulling in 7.3 rebounds. PJ Horgan pours in 11.1 points per game while adding 6.4 rebounds per game. Matt Van Scyoc adds 10.9 points per game.
The key for Appalachian of late has been the play of Michael Obacha. He is easily the most improved player on the team this season. Obacha has improved his presence in the post, getting open for easy layups, and has avoided foul trouble for the most part. Add to that, Obacha was shooting well under 50% from the free throw line earlier in the season, and has improved to 50%. It does not seem like much, but his efficiency has increased and he just looks more confident on the line.
We will update the spread in the morning. Our feeling is that Appalachian will be favored, and it could be close to ten points.
1:04 PM UPDATE: Appalachian is favored by 9.5 points. This is a really tough one. App has had trouble a couple times this season covering at home to South Division foes. I am really feeling taking Citadel in this one. Only some serious line movement will point me towards Appalachian on this one.
7:37 PM UPDATE: Holy bonkers the spread moved to 10.5. This is shocking. I just don’t feel it. App may lead by more than 10 before the game is over, but I don’t think they hold it. I am taking The Citadel to cover 10.5.
We are going to make this short and sweet because complaining is not going to change the result. Appalachian led by nine points in the first half, playing against a glorified intramural team, and squandered the lead and was forced to tie the game at halftime on a 75 foot, one-handed heave by Tevin Baskin that hit off the backboard and found the bottom of the net as time expired. Once again that tied the game at 34 at halftime.
Without some three pointers by Mike Neal and Tab Hamilton late in the game, Appalachian would have never found themselves in contention for overtime. The Mountaineers hit eight threes in the second half, which accounted for 24 of their 34 second half points. Even though Michael Obacha has played better of late, he has yet to play against a player like Mike Groselle, who plays a different style of center than any player in the league. He is their point guard in the post and their entire offense goes through him. Appalachian’s post players never make the pass back out of the post to an open shooter while The Citadel lives on it.
Somehow, Appalachian still finds itself in position to secure the bye in the SoCon Tourney that they should not want, nor deserve. The bye will come down to the game next weekend, starting with Samford on Thursday night. Appalachian trails Samford by one game in the North standings. Appalachian and Western Carolina are tied for fifth overall, and working out the tiebreaker scenarios will be futile until after Thursday’s results. This is much is certain, if Appalachian wants the fourth seed and the bye that comes with it, beating Samford comes first.
Appalachian did not cover the spread, and did not cover in a very lopsided manner. The Mountaineers were nearly 11 point favorites and perhaps turned that into the worst loss in school history. I went with The Citadel, the first time I had taken the opponent since East Carolina. Now Appalachian and myself are 14-8 against the spread this season. After starting 10-0 to start the season, App is 4-8 since.