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VMI vs. Western Carolina - 3/8/19 Southern Conference First Round College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Game
VMI vs. Western Carolina
Date & Time Friday March 8, 2019, 5:00 PM (EST)
Location
U.S. Cellular Center
Asheville, NC
The Line
Western Carolina Catamounts -1.5 -- O/U: 156.5
TV Channel
ESPN+
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The Western Carolina Catamounts and the VMI Keydets meet in a SoCon tournament first round matchup in college basketball action from the U.S. Cellular Center on Friday evening.

The Western Carolina Catamounts come into the conference tournament as the #9 seed, finishing with a 7-24 record overall, including 4-14 in conference play, losing out on the #8 seed only because of a tiebreaker with VMI. Western Carolina gave themselves some tough competition early on, with non-conference losses to Iowa, NC State, Wake Forest and SMU just to name a few. The Catamounts narrowly fell to Furman in early conference action, and never got the ball rolling consistently during conference play in the new year, starting 2-3 but proceeding to lose 10 of the next 12, finishing near the bottom of the conference. Carlos Dotson led the Catamounts in scoring and rebounding with 13.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game while Kameron Gibson came right behind with 13.3 points per game. Matt Halvorsen added 11.7 points and a team-high 2.8 assists per game while Onno Steger had 11.3 points per game as Western Carolina’s 4th double-digit scorer on the team this season. As a team, Western Carolina is averaging 71.6 points per game on 45.5% shooting from the field, 37.2% from behind the arc and 67% from the foul line this season.

The VMI Keydets enter the conference tournament as the #8 seed, finishing at 10-20 overall, including 4-14 in conference play, winning out on the previously mentioned tiebreaker over Western Carolina and the Citadel. VMI had some tough competition in their own right, losing to Pittsburgh in just their 2nd game of the year, but had one of the more impressive early-season outings, falling by only 10 points to top-10 ranked Kentucky at Rupp Arena as well as a loss on the road to Virginia Tech. Conference play was rough for VMI, losing their first 6 games before a win over the same Western Carolina Catamounts. The Keydets fell to 1-14 in conference play before rattling off 3 straight wins to finish the year, including completing the sweep of Western Carolina as well as wins over Mercer and the Citadel. Bubba Parham led the Keydets with 20.8 points and 3.5 assists per game while Myles Lewis came 2nd with 10.9 points per game and Garret Gilkeson came right behind in 3rd with 10.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game this season. As a team, VMI is averaging 75.5 points per game on 42.6% shooting from the field, 35.7% from behind the arc and 72.5% from the foul line this season.

Western Carolina is 8-20-1 ATS in their last 29 Friday games and 2-5 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games while the over is 4-0 in their last 4 games overall. VMI is 5-17 ATS in their last 22 neutral site games and 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games against a team with a losing record while the over is 6-1 in their last 7 conference games.

I know this is the 8-9 game and neither team has been all that great on a neutral floor, but I’m still surprised to see Western Carolina favored here. Sure it may not be a “neutral site” game with the game being played in North Carolina, but VMI swept the Catamounts this season, winning each meeting by at least 5 points. I just have the feeling that VMI wins this game but I’ll take the points just to be safe.

Pick:
VMI +1.5

Chris has been a sports fan from when he was old enough to pick up a basketball and was a standout offensive lineman throughout high school and college. Chris uses that same instinct, determination and drive to analyze trends and statistics to find and produce winners on a consistent basis. Chris has been writing for Sports Chat Place since 2016 and covers a wide array of sports from college and pro football, college basketball, hockey and baseball.

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