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The South Alabama Jaguars will battle it out with the Texas State Bobcats for a spot in the Sun Belt Tournament semifinals. South Alabama is coming off two straight wins just to get to this point, while the Bobcats have received byes up until now. Oddsmakers opened the Bobcats as six-point favorites here for this one, which will be televised on ESPN+.
South Alabama Survives
I’ve been higher than most on this South Alabama team. I picked them to win and cover the first round of this tournament against Arkansas State, and they did. Then I picked them to win and cover the second round against UL Lafayette, and they did.
But they got very lucky to against Lafayette. They ended up winning by just one point, and while they covered the spread as underdogs, they didn’t look very convincing. They played sloppy and turned the ball over 14 times, and got lucky that Lafayette essentially gave the game away. It wasn’t lockdown defense from South Alabama that held them to just 69 points, but rather just bad decision making from Lafayette.
Interestingly enough, when these two teams played earlier this year on Southern Alabama’s home court, the Jaguars won by 14 points. The Bobcats will have made some adjustments since then, and they’ll be out for revenge. I liked South Alabama in their first couple games because their was value, but I think their luck finally runs out here. Their turnover issues will catch up to them against this aggressive Texas State defense.
Texas State Reeling
Texas State got off to a great start this season. The Bobcats were one of the most pleasantly surprising teams for me this season, as they started the year 21-5. But they’ve struggled recently, and enter this one having lost three of five.
But while the losses sting and hurt their seeding for this tournament, I don’t think they’re going to prove to be too big of a deal. Sometimes a team that doesn’t seem to have much momentum actually benefits from the conference tournament setting. It gives them time off to clear their head and regroup, and them come out with some fire in a must-win game. Often teams that are having their worst stretches suddenly turn it around once the conference tournament starts, and I think we see something similar from the Bobcats here.
— Texas State Bobcats (@TxStateBobcats) March 11, 2019
I’m really high on this Texas State team because of their defense. Their defense ranks 76th in efficiency on Kenpom, which makes their defense by far the best in the Sun Belt. It’s a perfect matchup for them, because South Alabama has been really sloppy with the ball here. If the Bobcats can force turnovers, which they should, then they’ll be able to win this game easily. Nijal Pearson is going to go off here.
- 15-6 ATS in their last 21 neutral site game
- 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 Friday games
- 7-3-1 in Jaguars last 11 overall
- 15-6 in Jaguars last 21 neutral site games
- 4-1-1 in Jaguars last 6 games following an ATS win
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I love the Bobcats here. Texas State has slipped recently, but they’re still one of the two best teams in the conference, and they aren’t losing in the first game of their conference tournament. They matchup well, and they’ll end up winning this game by double digits with all the turnovers they’ll force.
Prediction: Texas State -6
Full-Game Total Pick
I also like the under a lot here. Texas State’s defense will completely smother South Alabama’s offense, and the Jaguars won’t score much at all. The under is 7-3-1 in South Alabama’s last 11 games, and the Bobcats’ offense will be really rusty here.