Men’s Basketball pounds Mocs, earns SoCon bye


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.

Men’s Basketball edges Samford in 2OT’s

The game between Appalachian and Samford on Thursday night in the Holmes Dome is about as big of a game that Appalachian will play this season. Elon has already wrapped up the North division crown, while Samford, Appalachian and Western Carolina will fight it out for the fourth overall seed for the SoCon tourney. Western and Appalachian play the same teams in reverse order in Samford and Chattanooga both at home, while Samford is on the road for both games. Whichever team can go 2-0 this weekend will win that fourth seed most likely, but is extremely possible that this thing gets real weird and we head to break this tie on some ridiculous rule the SoCon invented.

Samford 9-7 .563 6-3 3-4 0-0 W1 11-18 .379 7-6 4-10 0-2 W1
Appalachian State 8-8 .500 5-2 3-6 0-0 L1 12-15 .444 8-4 4-11 0-0 L1
Western Carolina 8-8 .500 3-4 5-4 0-0 L2 12-17 .414 6-5 5-11 1-1 W1

If Appalachian can go 2-0, that puts them at 10-8, and Samford could finish 10-8 at best, by beating Western, who would finish 9-7 in this scenario. Tiebreaker would go to Appalachian for beating second seeded Elon once.

If Appalachian can go 2-0, Samford goes 0-2, and Western goes 2-0, which would tie Appalachian and Western, the tiebreaker would go to Appalachian, once again for beating Elon once.

Appalachian could go 1-1 and still get the fourth seed, but it starts and begins with beating Samford. Without beating Samford, Appalachian’s seed will be out of their control.

Just for fun, if Western and Samford tie at 10-8, the tiebreaker would go to Samford for beating Charleston once.

Can the Mountaineers beat Samford. Of course, if they play to their best game and to their potential. In the first matchup, Samford played lights outs, hitting all the shots they needed to hit, quieting every Mountaineer run. The Bulldogs shot 55% from the field and 47% from three point land. Any time a shoots that well, it is going to be tough sledding beating them on the road, seven hours from your campus.

The early line is 3.5 points, favoring the Mountaineers. As has happened all year long, the line will move. Appalachian has covered in every game against North Division opponents at home this year, but has struggled recently against the South. Samford has covered the spread in twelve of its last fourteen games, with the other two games resulting in pushes. That is an incredible stretch that has to come to an end soon. We will watch the line and make our pick tomorrow.


In order to remain in contention for the bye, Appalachian did what it needed to do, even if it took them ten extra minutes. The Mountaineers led the entire first half, at one point by as many as twelve points, but as has been the case all season, Appalachian would relinquich that lead. After trailing by twelve points in the first half, Samford went on a long run that lasted close to twenty minutes of game time that put them ahead by eight points with 4:08 to play in the game. During that stretch, Samford outscored the Mountaineers 39-19.

When Samford grabbed their largest lead of the game with 4:08 to play in the second half, at 59-51, it was the last points they would score in regulation. Appalachian went on a 8-0 run themselves. Jamaal Trice scored five of his team leading 18 points during that stretch.

The first overtime period was an awful five minutes of basketball to watch. The two teams combined to shoot 1/9 in the period, with Appalachian’s two points coming on the free throw line by the most unlikely of players in Michael Obacha. The second overtime saw Appalachian score nine points in the first three minutes, and held on to win down the stretch as Samford failed to score in the final 2:18 of the game.

Appalchian improves its record against the spread to 14-9, which is our record as well. Saturday could bring about an interesting number consider the nature of how the first game between Appalachian and Chattanooga went down. Appalachian will be in a situation where they can win the game and secure the fourth seed and final bye heading into the SoCon tournament.


Men’s Basketball 58 Elon 61

Coaches like to tell their teams that the next basketball game, is the biggest one of our season. Appalachian’s game against Elon will be the biggest game to date, as a win or loss in either direction has big implications as far as tournament seeding and bye possibilities. Elon holds a 2.5 game lead over Appalachian and if the Mountaineers could cut the lead to 1.5 games, the pressure would be on Elon, as Appalachian would also hold the tiebreaker over Elon, going 2-0 against the Phoenix this season. A loss would all but end Appalachian’s chances to win the North Division. Who would have thought the Mountaineers would be in this position after the way they started the season?

Elon is fresh off of beating Furman by four points last Saturday. Elon’s big man, Lucas Troutman hurt his ankle in the win, only playing five minutes and is considered questionable for Thursday. Troutman was the team’s leading scorer at 15.1 points per game. Troutman scored fourteen against Appalachian earlier this season. Sharp shooter Jack Isenbarger is putting up 14.1 points per game, but only scored nine points in the first meeting. Isengarger has only been held to single digit scoring seven times this season. Tab Hamilton did a great job defensively against Isenbarger in the first game.

The defensive end is where Appalachian is going to have to win this game. Elon has shot 50% or better only four times this season, winning every games except against Appalachian. After losing to Appalachian, Elon secured seven straight wins, but has cooled off of late, losing by ten at Wofford prior to their win over Furman. The key will be keeping Elon from shooting threes, as three players have hit 40 or more threes this season. Samson Tanner has also been a huge spark plug for Elon lately. Tanner did not score against Appalachian in the first game, but has scored 82 points in his last nine games. Tanner averaged 5.4 points prior to going scoreless against Appalachian, but has averaged 9.1 points per game in his last nine games. Elon is 0-3 this season when Tanner does not score.

Appalachian only has three road wins this season, two in conference play. Last year, Elon barnstormed the Mountaineers in Burlington. Alumni Gym is not exactly what I would call a tough place to play, but it is very cozy and their students are annoying to listen to. Nathan Healy and Tevin Baskin both had big games the last time out against Elon as they forced Lucas Troutman into four fouls and only 25 minutes played. The Apps must attack the rim and challenge Elon in the paint. Appalachian does not have what it takes to get into a jump shooting contest against Elon.

10:14 AM UPDATE: Elon is currently favored by 8.5 points. This line is going to move today at some point, and I don’t think we will see 9. I think this will settle at 8. I am leaning Elon tonight, based on last year’s game.

6:56 PM UPDATE: Elon has to cover nine big ones. I just don’t think they will do it. I think it’s possible, but this game means too much for Appalachian to come out flat. One more time for the Apps.


It happened again. Appalachian led by seven points with 4:23 to play in the second half. From that point on, Elon outscored Appalachian 14-4 to all but clinch a first round bye in the SoCon tournament. Appalachian now must chase down Western Carolina, who defeated UNCG 70-68. In fact, Appalachian fell from second place to fourth in the North. That is how fragile the standings in the division are right now. Every win is big, and every loss is devastating. If App is not careful, a loss to Greensboro on Sunday could put them in fifth place, with every other team in the North playing a winnable game.

Elon started the game quickly and ran out to an early lead, but Appalachian countered with a 13-4 run in the first half to take a 21-14 lead. Elon battled back to tie the game at 23 thanks to Jack Isenbarger scoring four points before Appalachian called a timeout. Isenbarger would hit a three with just under a minute left in the first half to give Elon a 31-26 lead at halftime. Appalachian only scored 5 points in the last 7:47 of the first half. If you add the last few moments of each half together, Appalachian combined to score 9 points in the final twelve minutes and change of each half.

The game was one where several Mountaineer players did not show up, and this team cannot afford not to have everyone playing well and expect to win. Tab Hamilton was scoreless. Mike Neal was 3/10. Nathan Healy was in borderline foul trouble parts of the game and could not play as aggressive as he would like to. The team shot under 40% for the game, and only hit 3/16 from behind the arc. The real difference, App recorded seven assists, while Elon assisted on fourteen of their twenty-two made baskets.

Appalachian did manage to cover the spread, which would have been much sweeter if they could have held on for the win. They move to 13-7 on the year while our picks lag behind one game, as has been the case the entire season. Greensboro will bring a challenge, as Appalachian can be better than UNCG when they want to be, but the Spartans have one of the best one-two punches in the conference in Armstrong and Simpkins. Should be an interesting line tomorrow.

Men’s Basketball 74 Western Carolina 65

For the first time this season, in its twenty-first game, Appalachian will finally play its first game this season against a conference opponent for the second time. Way back in December, Appalachian went to Cullowhee, holding a ten point lead at halftime, and an eight point lead with ten minutes to play, before finally falling to the Catamounts by six points. It was the scene of the crime of the infamous “Worst Free Throw Ever”, now with a lowly 18 million YouTube views. That game was actually a sign of things to come for Appalachian. The Mountaineers controlled most of the game, before losing late. Reminds us all so much of just about every game in the last three weeks, namely Chattanooga, Georgia Southern, most recently Charleston. The difference between that game, and those most recent games are that the expectation level was different. In December, when the Apps played Western, they were still without Mike Neal, and nobody expected the Mountaineers to win that game. When Neal returned, the Mountaineers started playing better, and the expectations grew with a miniature winning streak in early January.

It is almost like the season has come full circle to an extent. The Mountaineers are back to their ways of losing games where they held leads, or went scoreless for long periods of time. Another difference is that Western has lost four of their last five games, mostly to teams that Appalachian has played very recently. Western has kept their games close, but have not been able to close them out, very similar to how Appalachian is playing. Western’s slump began on January 14th with a loss to Elon, which they followed up with a loss to Samford on the road. The Catamounts then outscored Chattanooga, before losing by single digits to both Georgia Southern and Davidson.

Western features four players averaging double digit points, led by Trey Sumler at 17.6 per game. Tawaski King is their main post player, socring 11.5 points a game while grabbing 5.8 rebounds. Three pointer shooter Tom Tankelwicz has hit 58 treys on the season while shooting at a 40% clip. Brandon Boggs chips in 10.4 points per game.

The question for Appalachian is whether or not Mike Neal will make a difference in this game. Appalachian took good care of the basketball with only nine turnovers in the first matchup, but could not hit a shot in the second half from anywhere. The real different is the play of Tevin Baskin, who only played two minuted in the first game. Baskin brings a lot of athleticism to the Mountaineer lineup, and really is the only fresh player on the team. Baskin has been scoring points and grabbing rebounds in bunches in the last few games, but the problem is, Appalachian has not been winning.

Western has lost the last four games against the spread where they were favored, and is 4-0-1 in its last five games where they are underdogs. Appalachian, as we have detailed on a weekly basis, has been the streakiest team in college basketball against the spread. The Mountaineers covered the first ten games, and have not covered their last five games. Something has to give soon, or does it? I think these two teams are very even, and the Mountaineers were undermanned back in December. My educated guess is that we could see a PK or Appalachian favored by two points.

8:51 AM UPDATE: When we checked the line late last night and this morning, the Mountaineers were considered 1.5 point favorites, and that seems just about right for me. Since I want the Apps to win, I will gladly take a small number.


Appalachian held off a late Western Carolina rally and held on for their fifth conference win of the season in a nine point win. Appalachian controlled most of the game, leading by as many as fourteen points in the first half. Western never led in the game, but cut Appalachian’s lead to one point with two minutes to play at 65-64. The Mountaineers finished the game on a 9-1 run, with Nathan Healy scoring seven of his 24 points in the final two minutes.

Healy scored 15 points in the first half, responding well from his dismal performance against Charleston two nights earlier. Healy was quiet in the second half, scoring only one field goal in the first eighteen minutes of the second half. Healy scored on a three, a dunk and two free throws in the closing minutes, and it was perfect example of his all around game. Healy added eight rebounds, seven steals and two timely blocks to his line for the game. Appalachian has now split the season series with its first conference opponent and it has put them at 5-5 in conference play, just a half game behind Samford for second place in the SoCon North. Elon has a commanding three game lead over Appalachian with only eight conference games remaining.

Appalachian tipped off as a 1.5 point favorite and broke the losing streak against the spread, to go 11-5 on the season. Our picks are one game behind at 10-6 for the season. Appalachian’s next opponent, Georgia Southern will most likely be favored against the Mountaineers. For whatever reason, Georgia Southern has always been a tough road game for the men. Factor in how Appalachian blew a huge lead at home just a few games ago and could not cover against the Eagles.

Men’s Basketball 68 Samford 72

Samford and Appalachian were projected to finish tied for fourth in the SoCon by the media prior to the season. On Saturday afternoon, they will be playing for a share of first place. Samford has been especially hot of late, winning three in a row. Samford took care of Western Carolina on Thursday, after sweeping the Low-Country portion of the schedule on the road with wins over The Citadel and Charleston. Samford seems to be a team that plays up and down to its competition. Their win over The Citadel was a four point win, over a team that has now lost twelve straight games. Their victory over Charleston was a major upset as far as Southern Conference basketball is concerned. Samford lost their only SoCon game at home to Chattanooga, a team Appalachian dominated, but could not finish off down the stretch.

For the season, Samford has been outscored, outshot, outrebounded and overall, just plain outhustled by their opponents all season long. Similar to Wofford, they are led by a duo of underclassmen who have provided the bulk of their scoring. Raijon Kelly has scored in double figures in every game this season. The sophomore was named to the 2012 SoCon all-freshman team last season. Kelly has played thirty minutes or more in every game this season, but has been in a shooting slump of late. Kelly is shooting 42.4% from the floor this season, but has only made 12/40 (30%) his last three games. Kelly has been off after exploding for 27 points and six made three pointers, both season highs, against Chattanooga. Tim Williams is a freshman forward who comes in a 6’8″ and 210 pounds. Williams averages 14.4 points per game and 7.3 rebounds. Williams averages 5.5 field goals made per game. Samford features a rather short bench, as only six players have played in every game this season.

This a big game for Appalachian from a mental standpoint. Can the Mountaineers erase the nightmare that was the Chattanooga game? Even though Appalachian thoroughly dominated the Mocs for most of the game, those memories are all but forgotten. Appalachian has fared well in Alabama since Samford has joined the conference. In four games on the road, Appalachian is 3-1 at Samford, with three straight wins. Jason Capel is 3-1 all time against Samford, with the only loss coming last year in Boone in a one point game.

Five Mountaineers continue to average in double figures. The play of Tevin Baskin of late has been a big boost on both ends of the court. Mike Neal has been great since his return to the team, although Neal had a rough outing on Thursday against Chattanooga. If Tab Hamilton can continue to shoot well, this Appalachian team will be on the rise, and they can hopefully forget about “The Chatty Collapse”

The Mountaineers opened as 1.5 point favorite against Samford on Saturday morning, and since, the line has ballooned to 3; Appalachian still considered a favorite. This has been an interesting trend  this season. Appalachian has done well against the spread this season, and it has drawn the interest from gamblers. We have never seen a line move  as much as it has this season. In the past, maybe one or two games, sees a line move during the course of an entire season. Now, it is almost a guarantee that the line will move. We liked the Mountaineers this morning at 1.5, which means you are basically picking a winner.  Three points makes things a little more interesting. We are going to give Appalachian a small benefit of the doubt. They had a rough half hour on Thursday, but everything had been rosy for most of the month. We’ll stick behind Appalachian and the points today, but will gladly take a ATS loss and straight up win.


Samford used its best game of the season to edge by Appalachian 72-68 on Saturday evening. The Bulldogs ripped the nets all night long, en route to shooting 54.5% for the game. Every time Appalachian made a push, Samford would put up another clutch shot. Appalachian was fortunate to only be down five points at halftime after Samford shot 63% in the first half. Appalachian remained in the game with eight made free throws in the first half and five three pointers.

Appalachian had several chances in the second half to take the lead or tie the game. In all, there were eighteen opportunities the Mountaineers had in the second half, where they were down by one possession, three points or fewer, and either turned the ball over, missed free throws, dunks or layups. Six such times in the second half, the Mountaineers were in the same situation only down one point. The Mountaineers were 3/8 from the free throw line in the second half. Would have been nice to have one or two of those back, to at least make the game a little more in reach down the stretch. However, this game did not boil down to what Appalachian did not do, but more of what Samford did. They hit every shot they needed to, and took care of the basketball by only committing nine turnovers. In college basketball, if you turn the ball over less than ten times and shoot over 50% from the field, you are going to win a lot of basketball games. We can manage a loss like this. The other team played lights out, but the sting of Thursday and “The Chatty Collapse” are still fresh in the minds of Mountaineer fans.

The Mountaineers have now fallen short of the spread in two straight games, moving them to 10-2 on the year, and our picks are now 9-3. It appears the conference schedule has now evened out to an extent. Appalachian has now played all of its Northern division opponents once. Wins over Elon and Greensboro and losses to Chattanooga, Samford and Western Carolina. Their record stands at 2-3 in the North, and quite simply, 2-0 at home and 0-3 on the road. The Mountaineers really should be 4-2 in conference play, but they will have to steal another game down the stretch to contend in the North.

When you consider the SoCon changed the seeding rules for the conference tournament, finishing second in the division is not good enough anymore. The Mountaineers are now two games behind first place Samford. The race for the third and fourth seeds in the tournament will be interesting down the stretch. I wonder if the conference had the smarts to create an inter-division tiebreaker formula with an unbalanced schedule for those coveted third and fourth seeds.

Currently if the tourney started today, this is how the seeds would be distributed. Interesting that the reason the SoCon implemented the new seeding porcess was so teams in the South, namely Wofford, would not finish with a 12-6 league record and be relegated to playing in the first round of the tournament. And now, the plan has backfired and three North teams hold down the top four spots.

Davidson    6-1

Samford    5-1

W. Carolina   5-2

Elon   4-2


Men’s Basketball 88 Chattanooga 91 (OT)

The hottest team in the Southern Conference will face the “western” road trip this weekend when they play Chattanooga on Thursday and Samford on Saturday. First up is the Chattanooga Mocs (7-10, 2-2), who are returning from a four game road trip. The Mocs were 2-2 on the road trip, falling to Georgia Tech and Charleston while defeating Samford and The Citadel. If the Mocs have any true quality wins on the season, you can count the High Point team that Appalachian could not beat on their own home floor and most recently, a surprising Samford team that is 3-1 in SoCon play. The Mocs are a streaky team,with most of their wins coming with single digit margins, while their defeats are by double figures.

This is a big game for both Chattanooga and Appalachian. Not only does the game feature North Division opponents, which we knew mean so much as far as tiebreakers are concerned for the SoCon Tournament, but Appalachian currently holds a one game lead in the standings over Chattanooga. Appalachian (7-8, 3-1) is a half game out of first place behind Western Carolina who has one more win. Although Chattanooga is only a game out of second place in the North, they are only a half game out of the cellar in front of Greensboro, who defeated Wofford on Wednesday.

Chattanooga is led by a man named Z Mason, who leads the team in scoring (13.2)s and rebounding (7.1). Backing up Mason is Gee McGhee (9.6) and Ronrico White (9.4). Without a doubt, Chattanooga gets the award for having the all name team in the SoCon. I doubt there is another trio in the conference with such unique and repetitive names. As a team, Chattanooga shoots poorly from every area on the floor. Their three point shooting is last in the conference at 29.6%, while their field goal shooting stands at 41%, barely good enough for 10th in the twelve team SoCon. The Mocs are 11th in the conference shooting free throws at 65.6%.

In a matter of a few days, Appalachian has five players averaging double figures on the season: Jay Canty 15.3, Nathan Healy 14.3, Mike Neal 10.6, Tevin Baskin 10.3, and Tab Hamilton 10.2. The return of Mike Neal has been a huge lift. His absence at the beginning of the season was extremely undervalued. Neal has been a decent distributor, while adding the ability to get to the rim when needed. Tevin Baskin has also played better, becoming a valuable sixth man that can come off the bench and play thirty minutes if needed. Nathan Healy has been especially solid, creating mismatches on the perimeter for just about every one who defends him. Appalachian has started slow the last couple games, but has finished the first half of those games very strongly and carried it over into the second half to close out wins.

We are having a hard time not gushing over the Mountaineers and their unbelievable covers streak that have going this season. Appalachian is the only team that is perfect against the spread in the NCAA with a minimum of ten lines games at 10-0. On Tuesday, we hypothesized the spread for Thursday, and noted that a pick’em was possible. The first line we have seen is Appalachian being favored by one point. That is just about as good as a guess you can ask for. I would not be surprised if the line snuck up toward to -2 for Appalachian tomorrow. At this point, our hands are tied, and we are going to stick with Appalachian until it burns us. We are 9-1 this season, with our only miss coming in the opening game against East Carolina.

7:05 AM UPDATE: Line opened as a pick’em on our regular book. App stills looks solid here.

12:43 PM UPDATE: Line is now spotting the Mountaineers two points. Appalachian actually plays well at Chattanooga. I do not understand the movement. Everyone must be expecting Appalachian to lose eventually.


For thirty-four minutes, Appalachian looked like the team Mountaineers fans had seen for close to a month. Whatever happened in the final six minutes would be the most embarrassing moments to date this season if it were not for an infamous free throw attempt, which has only garnered 17.9 million YouTube hits. The Mountaineers managed to lose a nineteen point lead in the final 6:36 of the game. Chattanooga scored fifteen points in the first thirteen minutes and change of the second half, which is just over a point a minute. In the final third of the second half, the Mocs scored 33 points. They doubled their point total in the second half, in only half the time. This was an utter collapse of epic proportions.

Once Appalachian gained the nineteen point lead, at the 6:36 mark of the second half, the Mountaineers only grabbed one rebound for the rest of regulation. That was a rebound by Nathan Healy with 5:56 to play. Over the same period of time, the final 6:36 of regulation, Chattanooga grabbed 11 rebounds, six offensive and five defensive. Those six offensive rebounds led to ten second chance points for the Mocs. Ten of their twelve second half points came in the final 6:36. That is inexcusable.

Four Mountaineers scored in double figures. Most importantly, Tab Hamilton scored 21 points and may have broken out of his slump. Although the Roundhouse has been a horror house for Appalachian as a team over the years, it has been a place where Mountaineer shooting guards have had some of their best games. Nathan Cranford hit ten three pointers in a game there in 2007, and Noah Brown hit nine threes in a game in Chattanooga in 2004. Hamilton hit five threes on the night. Nathan Healy added 22 points and 10 rebounds. Jay Canty scored 19 points and Tevin Baskin scored 11 with 7 rebounds.

For the first time all season, Appalachian lost against the spread. The line closed at +2, and of course the the Mountaineers (10-1 ATS) lost by three in overtime. We are not quite sure if this collapse was an anomaly, or a sign of things to come. This was a game that Appalachian had in hand, and literally gave it away. Our record falls to 9-2 on the year. This one stung, which is also why we needed a day to “cool off” before writing about it. Appalachian should still be favored over Samford on Saturday evening, but it will not be by many points. Every home team in the SoCon won on Thursday night, including Davidson and Western Carolina losing on the road in very winnable games.

Samford 4-1 .800 2-1 2-0 0-0 W3 6-12 .333 3-4 3-6 0-2 W3
Western Carolina 4-2 .667 2-1 2-1 0-0 L2 7-11 .389 4-2 2-8 1-1 L2
Elon 3-2 .600 1-1 2-1 0-0 W2 10-7 .588 6-2 4-5 0-0 W2
Chattanooga 3-2 .600 1-1 2-1 0-0 W1 8-10 .444 5-6 3-4 0-0 W1
Appalachian State 3-2 .600 2-0 1-2 0-0 L1 7-9 .438 5-2 2-7 0-0 L1
UNCG 2-3 .400 2-0 0-3 0-0 W1 4-12 .250 4-4 0-8 0-0 W1

Men’s Basketball 83 UNC-Greensboro 70

Appalachian concludes its homestand with a game against UNC-Greesboro on Monday night. Greensboro is having a very tough season, standing at 3-11 and 1-2 in conference play. The Spartans were considered a team that could win the North Division, but have not played that well. They have lost several plays to injuries recently and are short handed at the wrong time of the year. Trevis Simpson has recently had an ankle injury and a concussion, according to The school says that Simpson is a game-time decision on Monday. Korey Van dussen broke his wrist in practice recently and he will be out for a month or more. Freshman center RJ White is also out for the season.

Darrell Armstrong has been carrying the Spartans recently. Armstrong averages 16.6 points per game but has only started four games. Armstrong has scored in double figures in all but two games this season, and tied a season high with 25 points against Western Carolina on Saturday. Simpson averages 18.0 points per game and is easily an all-SoCon performer when he is healthy. Greensboro has a very athletic team and they are tough to defend in transition. Last year, Greensboro won two of the three meetings. Greensboro overcame a huge deficit to beat Appalachian at home in overtime, and then overpowered the Mountaineers in the SoCon tourney.

We are thinking the Mountaineers should be favored here. Eventually Vegas is going to figure out Appalachian. A team cannot go an entire season covering the spread every games. Eventually things will start evening out. Regardless, we are thinking Appalachian is going to be 3 to 5 point favorite tomorrow night. We will update the spread throughout the day on Monday.

5:24 UPDATE: It took all afternoon to get a line up, despite several other SoCon games being out up last night, the Appalachian game was slow to get line. One site lined it at -4.5, but our primary book has it at -5.5 in favor of the Mountaineers. I think that is a very slippery number, and tonight could be the night the Apps lose their cover streak. However, we are going to ride the Mountaineers until they burn us. We will take the Mountaineers.

6:05 UPDATE: For what it is worth, the line has moved to -4.


After falling behind by as many as ten points in the first half, Appalachian exploded for 51 second half points en route to its fifth straight win, 83-70 over UNC-Greensboro. Appalachian came out of halftime down seven, and went on a 18-2 run that surged them ahead by nine points. Appalachian encountered several small runs by the Spartans in the second half, but responded every time with a huge basket of their own.

Perhaps the most noticeable statistic that gives some credit to Appalachian, is how well they have shot free throws and taken care of the basketball recently. Appalachian only turned the ball over nine times against Greensboro, while also getting to the free throw line thirty-four times. Appalachian converted twenty-eight of its free throws for a 82% clip for the game. On the other hand, Greensboro only hit eleven of their eighteen free throw attempts while Appalachian was making its run.

If there is one concern with this recent streak, is that the team is playing a very short bench. Jamaal Trice continues to play limited minutes off the bench due to illnesses. Michael Obacha played twelve minutes, the most action he has seen, mostly by staying out of foul trouble. Chris Burgess played twelve minutes as well, and hit a huge three pointer in the first half. Outside of those three, the rest of team is playing a large number of minutes each night. Nathan Healy (37), Tab Hamilton (35), and Jay Canty (32) and Mike Neal (32) are all averaging well over thirty minutes the last few games. Tevin Baskin played 29 minutes off the bench against UNCG. The scary thing, is this team is an injury away from being in real trouble due to depth.

Four Mountaineers scored in double figures, which will probably continue as long as they are playing thirty-plus minutes each game out. Healy led all scorers with 24 points while also snagging nine rebounds and swatting three shots. Mike Neal scored nineteen points, with nine of those coming on the three point line. Baskin added sixteen points, four rebounds and three steals. Canty was the final double digit scorer for the Apps with 14 points and nine rebounds. Tab Hamilton continues to struggle to find his shot, but has played good defense the last two games, first chasing Elon’s Jack Isenbarger on Saturday, and then playing against a very athletic group of wing players from Greensboro. 

For Greensboro, Trevin Simpson did play, but did not start. Simpson finished with 22 points in 27 minutes. Simpson easily has one of the best jumpshots coming off the dribble in the conference. Derrell Armstong finished with 20 points, but no other Spartan scored in double figures. Greensboro is a dangerous team thanks to Simpson and Armstrong, and can beat any team in this league on any given night. The rest of thir roster is a motley crew. Nobody really scares you. Simpson and Armstrong combined for sixteen of the twenty-three Spartan field goals.

Finally, after a line that was posted late in the day, and saw a lot of action in the hours leading up to the game, it finally settled down right where we figured it would. Although the book we use says the final line was -5.5, we know it was closer to 4 as tipoff approached. Regardless, Appalachian covered again, for the tenth time this season. The Mountaineers have yet to lose a game against the spread this season. It is really hard to believe, that a team with an RPI in the high 280’s has yet to lose against the spread. We know this will eventually even out, but for the time being, we are going to enjoy this most unlikely of statistics. The thought is that Appalachian could be considered favorites in its next two road games at Chattanooga and Samford. If we have to guess, a pick’em  could be very likely on Saturday at the Roundhouse.

Western Carolina 4-1 .800 2-1 2-0 0-0 L1 7-10 .412 4-2 2-7 1-1 L1
Appalachian State 3-1 .750 2-0 1-1 0-0 W3 7-8 .467 5-2 2-6 0-0 W5
Samford 3-1 .750 1-1 2-0 0-0 W2 5-12 .294 2-4 3-6 0-2 W2
Elon 2-2 .500 0-1 2-1 0-0 W1 9-7 .563 5-2 4-5 0-0 W1
Chattanooga 2-2 .500 0-1 2-1 0-0 L1 7-10 .412 4-6 3-4 0-0 L1
UNCG 1-3 .250 1-0 0-3 0-0 L3 3-12 .200 3-4 0-8 0-0 L2

Men’s Basketball 80 Elon 70

Appalachian hosts Elon at approxiamately 4:30pm Saturday afternoon in a game that will have tiebreaker implications as far the SoCon tournament goes. Realizing this is only the third conference game for both teams this season, both teams know each game between divisional opponents has been critical the last several years. Both teams stand 1-1 in the conference standings and could really use a win for confidence. A 2-1 conference record looks and feels a lot better than 1-2. This is the first home conference game of the season for Appalachian. Elon will be playing their second conference road game.

Elon has been playing like team that prefers a slower pace and does a really good job of taking care of the basketball. Yes, Elon averages close to 70 points per game, but have only managed 54.5 points per contest in two conference games. The Phoenix have also only committed twelve turnovers in each conference game, against Charleston and Georgia Southern, both members of the Southern Division. Elon has used the same starting lineup in all but two games, and are led by forward Lucas Troutman and sharp shooting guard Jack Isenbarger. Troutman averages 14.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Isenbarger averages scoring 14.6 per game, and leads the team in three pointers and free throws made. Sebaston Koch is also deadly from three point range shooting 44.6% behind the arc while also snagging 4.9 rebounds per game.

For Appalachian, the season has slowly turned around for the positive. Part of that turn around is having their starting point guard back in Mike Neal. Even though Neal has not put up monster numbers, the team has a better chemistry with him in the game. Neal has averaged 7.6 points and 3.8 assists per game. Tevin Baskin has been turning it up the level play as well in the last few games. He has seen increased playing time and has pushed his averaged to 9.5 points per game. Nathan Healy has continued to shoot well from all points on the floor. Healy is a 55% shooter from the field, 44% three point shooter and 88% free throw shooter. Jay Canty continues to lead the team in scoring at 15.6 points per game, but has fallen off recently while he battles a sore thumb.

We are guessing the spread to be somewhere in the 3.5 to 6 point range in favor of Elon. The Phoenix has a much higher RPI, and defeated South Carolina, while the Mountaineers fell just short. However, Elon has not won in Boone since 2007, and is 2-13 all time in Boone. Appalachian played perhaps its best game of the season last year in a 15 point home win over the Phoenix. We will update in the morning on the actual number. Appalachian is still the only undefeated team against the spread in college basketball at 8-0 on the season. Our picks are 7-1 on the season.

12:18 AM UPDATE: Elon opens as a 1.5 point favorite. We had some slight premonitions that we were off in this game, and that we could be looking at a pick’em. However, Appalachian at +1.5 at home, where Elon has only won twice in fifteen previous attempts, seems pretty fair. An easy play would be to buy 0.5 points down on the Apps to ensure a push. We will update our play in the morning once Vegas has time to change they line if they seem necessary.


Appalachian trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half, but rallied for their second straight SoCon win in a 80-70 victory over Elon. The Phoenix started the game with everything falling. At one point, they had hit seven of their first nine shots to take a quick twelve point lead. In fact Elon led by twelve points on three different occasions in the first half, at 21-9, 29-17 and 31-19. Appalachian went on a 15-3 run to end the half, and tie the score a 34.

The second half was tight early on, but Appalachian eventually stretched the lead out on the back of its superb three point shooting. Five different Mountaineers combined to hit ten threes. Nathan Healy and Mike Neal each hit three apiece. Neal hit every one of his attempts. Appalachian finished with five players in double figures, led by Healy’s 22 points, 8 rebounds and four steals. Tevin Baskin came off the bench and continued his strong play with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Mike Neal added 17 points and three assists. Tab Hamilton added ten points, but his best work was done on Elon star Jack Isenbarger, who was held to nine points, making only one three pointer. Ryley Beaumont has the game of his life, hitting 11/13 shots for 26 points while grabbing nine rebounds.

Appalachian has now won four straight games and five of six. Even more impressive, Appalachian has now covered in all of its lined games this season. Eventually oddsmakers will figure out Appalachian, currently 9-0 against the spread. Our pick was correct again and we have improved to 8-1 on the season. Greensboro is next at home and Appalachian will most likely be favored against the struggling Spartans, who are 3-11 on the season, and 0-2 in SoCon play. We believe Appalachian will be favored by 3 to 5 points. As usual, we will update the line in the morning.

Appalachian State Mens Basketball: Western Carolina Postgame & Regular Season Review

Appalachian decided its fate Saturday with a lethargic end to the regular season. The Mountaineers lost to rival Western Carolina in Cullowhee by a final of 83-75. With the loss, their tournament future was clear despite several other conference games remaining on Saturday evening. The Mountaineers finished the season fifth in the SoCon North Standings. They will play College of Charleston on Friday at 11:30am in Asheville, NC. The Mountaineers regular season record stands at 12-17 and 7-11 in conference play. The seven conference wins were over each team in the North and Furman twice. The Mountaineers five non-conference wins were over Winthrop, Tennessee Tech, Campbell, Milligan and Lees-McRae.

Clearly, a disappointing season for a team that will have no players on the all-conference team and will be lucky to get Mike Neal on the all-freshman team. Appalachian was picked to finish second in the North division and senior Omar Carter was selected as the preseason player of the year. The Mountaineers final RPI number will be in the 275 range. Appalachian regressed from last years 16-15 record and 10-8 record in the SoCon. Losing Donald Sims was obviously a huge reason for the decline as Appalachian could never find a consistent scorer. Omar Carter is the only player averaging more than ten points a game.

Updated SoCon North Standings 2/23/2012

So what has changed in a day? Everything. As expected, Elon lost big on the road at Davidson. Western led by double digits in the first half over Samford, but the Bulldogs made a late push before falling by two points on the road. UNC-Greensboro has locked the North Division championship with the Elon and Samford losses. Greensboro’s game against Elon on Saturday means nothing to them, but plenty for the Phoenix. With a win and a Samford loss, Elon clinches the two seed. If Elon and Samford tie at 9-9, the 2 seed goes to Samford, with two head to head wins over Elon. If they tie at 8-10, it brings the winner of Appalachian and Western Carolina into play. A three way tie with Appalachian gives Samford the two seed, Appalachian the three seed and Elon the four seed via head to head games against the three schools. Appalachian split those four games, while Elon was 1-3 and Samford was 3-1. If there is a three way tie between Elon, Samford and Western Carolina, the four seed goes to Elon with a 1-3 record against the tied schools. Samford is 2-2, getting swept by Western Carolina, and in turn sweeping Elon. Western would be 3-1 against the tied schools and grab the two seed. In short, these four teams can be in any of three seeding spots, and in some cases four, depending on the results on Saturday afternoon.

Getting the two seed is critical and only Samford controls their own destiny with a win. What is the big difference between the third, fourth and fifth seeds? The third seed in the North plays The Citadel in the first round of the tournament. The fourth seed plays the fifth from the South and the fifth seed plays the fourth in the South, which will either be Charleston or Furman, who are currently tied at 8-9. Charleston is most likely to take the four seed, with a game against Citadel on the road, which is really a couple miles up the street, while Furman travels 30 minutes up the road to Spartanburg. If Furman and Charleston stay tied after Saturday, Charleston gets the four seed since they beat South Division champion Davidson while Furman lost to the Wilcats twice.

SoCon North Standings

UNCG      10-7       @Elon

Elon             8-9        UNCG

Samford       8-9      @UTC

App St          7-10     @WCU

WCU             7-10      App St