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Appalachian State Mountaineers vs Arkansas Little Rock Trojans
Sun Belt Conference Tournament
Betting Spread – App State -2. Total 133.5
Where to watch – ESPN Plus

The Sun Belt Conference tournament kicks off tonight with the 4 and 5 seed being the last game played between App State and Little Rock. This will actually be the first time these two meet up in the regular season, but there is data to be extracted through similar foes that holds weight here. This conference is fairly spread out between offensive/defensive efficiency along with the tempo of teams. Let’s talk on comparable tempo’d teams.

There are 6 teams in this conference than rank 232 or slower in D1 in adjusted tempo with Texas State being far and away the slowest and App State behind them. App State did not play Texas State, but Little Rock did four times this season and every game crawled. In all four games, the total never surpassed 124 (in regulation) despite tremendous shooting in some of those games. App state is certainly not as good defensively as TXST, but I’d imagine pace plays out very similar here which was nearly as slow as games could play out. App State just played Georgia Southern who is actually very comparable to Little Rock. Of these four games only one of these went over 129 and that one game saw both teams shoot 50% from the field with a bit of a Free Throw fest for App State.

I’ve mentioned a few times recently how conference tourney unders should be more of a target than previous regular season games especially if the number makes sense. Defense is elevated and while free throws can get extra egregious late, teams who often play slow, play slower and focus extra efforts on the defensive end. This can lead to slower possessions on both sides of the ball and more physical play. The lone drawback is that more fouls can get called in these games, but most often refs let them play. Let’s now chat on how these two match-up.

The one thing about both these teams is they like to play in the low 60s. App State has scored more than 63 points in regulation just one time in their last eight games. Little Rock has scored more than 66 points in regulation just one time in their last fourteen games and this was in their last game vs Louisiana who is the fastest tempo’d team in the conference. On this alone, you’d think first team to 66 wins this game.

So, look we know pace should be quite slow, but what does the rest look like? It’d be hard to imagine this game turns into a foul fest. While both teams are above average getting to the free throw line, both teams are also well above average at not putting guys there. App State has quite an edge TO wise, but Little Rock has their edge on the offensive glass. This could lead to a few extra points from both on each end. Little Rock is also very good inside the ark and App State is the conference worst defending inside. This speaks direct to a size mismatch Little Rock has, as Little Rock ranks 18th in D1 in average height where App State ranks 269th.

In conference play, both teams get about 20% of their points from the free throw line, but here both teams don’t really foul that much and assuming these refs let them bang down in a conference tourney game, the expectation is fouls get limited. I want to be clear, there will be fouls called here between these two as both are good at drawing contact, but assuming this isn’t a foul fest, it would take egregious level shooting to push this over. Like this all the way down to 132.

JJ’s Best Bet
UNDER 133.5 -113 (DK)

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