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Sun Belt Conference Tournament quarterfinals here as the UL Monroe Warhawks take on the Georgia Southern Eagles. Monroe has already won two games to get here, while the Eagles were sitting on the double bye. The game will be televised on ESPN+, with a spot in the semifinals on the line, it should be a good one.
Monroe Wins Big
UL Monroe has been having just an average season, but you wouldn’t guess that from watching them the last couple of weeks. They’ve been playing with a ton of confidence, and have already won two games in this tournament.
I predicted they’d beat Coastal Carolina in the second round, but even I didn’t anticipate them winning that big. The Warhawks ended up absolutely destroying Coastal Carolina, winning by 30 points. They played smothering defense the entire night and held Coastal to just 50 points. It was a huge step in the right direction for Monroe, cause defense is normally their weakness. They have a great offense that ranks 34th in efficiency on Kenpom, which is an absurdly high ranking for a Sun Belt team. Their defense was poor all season which held them down, but if their defense is rounding into form as it appears to be, they’re going to be a genuinely scary team moving forward.
— ULM Men's Basketball (@ULM_MBB) March 11, 2019
They wore Coastal down with their blistering fast-paced style of play and forced the Chanticleers into 14 turnovers. They shot 45% from three and made over 90% of their free throws. This team is maturing right in front of our eyes and is firing on all cylinders. With how potent their offense is, led by senior guard Daishon Smith, they could win this whole thing.
Georgia Southern Overrated
Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a reasonably successful year for Georgia Southern basketball. They’ve established themselves as being consistently one of the best teams in the Sun Belt and finished with a 12-6 record in conference play.
But for a few reasons, I’m still not buying the hype. They just don’t have the type of offense from a team you’d expect to be competing for the conference title. They don’t have much shooting as a team and shoot less than 33% from deep as a team. They also don’t match up very well against this Monroe team and their blistering style of play. The last time they played the Warhawks, Monroe beat them by nine points. Georgia Southern got abused on the boards in that game and gave up 11 offensive rebounds to Monroe.
Georgia Southern has underachieved in conference tournaments recently, and I don’t like their prospects here. The fact that they received a double bye will actually be a disadvantage for them, as they’ll come out rusty. Monroe, on the other hand, is playing their best basketball of the season and will come out fired up and ready to go. If the Eagles are slow and rusty at the beginning, it’s going to be very hard to dig themselves out of a hole without any shooting.
- 6-1 in Eagles last 7 overall
- 4-1 in Eagles last 5 Friday games
- 5-1 in the last 6 meetings with UL Monroe
- 7-0 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600
- 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record
- 10-3 ATS in their last 13 games following an ATS win
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I like Monroe a lot here. Due to their respective styles of play, the double bye will be a big disadvantage for the Eagles here. Monroe is absolutely on fire, and they’re playing at a level they haven’t all season. They’ll end up winning this one easily and advancing to the conference semifinals.
Prediction: UL Monroe
Full-Game Total Pick
I also like the under a lot here. Both of these teams have the reputations for playing in high scoring games, which has actually created a good amount of value on the under in their games. Monroe’s defense has suddenly come alive, and the under is 6-1 in Georgia Southern’s last seven games. This one will be lower scoring than people think.