Norfolk State Spartans vs Appalachian State Mountaineers – NCAAM March 18

8:40 p.m. ET – First Four (West Region)

No. 16 Norfolk St. vs. No. 16 Appalachian St. (-3½) O/U: 133

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Norfolk St +3½ (-105) +140 O 133½ (-110)
Appalachian St -3½ (-115) -170 U 133½ (-110)

The 16-7 Spartans and the 17-11 Mountaineers battle in Assembly Hall in Indianapolis Thursday night for the unenviable right to play the No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga Bulldogs on Saturday. Norfolk State defeated Morgan State in the MEAC title game on Saturday to punch its ticket to the NCAA First Four. App State had to win four games in four days, which included three wins over higher-seeded teams and two overtime wins, in order to win the Sun Belt conference tournament.

It has been a while since either team has made the NCAA tournament. Norfolk State has not been since its historic upset over No. 2 seed Missouri in 2012 and App State has not been since 2000.

Norfolk State Spartans LogoThe best player on the court Thursday night will be Spartans guard Devante Carter, who led Norfolk with averages of 15.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and four assists per game this season. How Carter goes, so go the Spartans, and obviously the greatest task for the Mountaineers will be finding a way to slow Carter down and make someone else beat them.

Appalachian State Mountaineers LogoAppalachian State does not have any one guy that runs the show, with six players averaging over eight points per game, but guard Michael Almonacy scored a career-high 32 points in the conference title victory over Georgia State. The six players mentioned above are the only real contributors on the team, making their lack of depth concerning in this matchup.

Please Note:
Appalachian State has had 10 days to rest, get healthy and practice to get ready for this game. Norfolk State runs what they call a “floppy zone,” which is essentially a defense that flows between man-to-man, 2-3, and 3-2 zones. With five days to prepare for the “floppy zone,” expect the Mountaineers to have no issues finding enough success on the offensive end to get the job done. The game will be won with App State’s defense, which should be well prepared to make anyone other than Devante Carter beat them. Expect the Mountaineers to shut down the Spartans’ offensive attack and advance to get a crack at the vaunted No. 1 seed Bulldogs.
The Bet
Appalachian State -3½
-115

*Odds courtesy of MyBookie

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Joe Menzer / Author

Joe is an award-winning writer and editor who has covered the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, golf, various collegiate athletics and other sports for newspapers, Turner Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN. He has been on the beat for seven Super Bowls, six Daytona 500s and numerous NBA playoff series and All-Star Games. He once was dispatched to Rome, Italy to spend time with an NBA draft choice who opted to play overseas, after which he produced an award-winning series of stories. He also is passionate about fantasy sports and breaking down games in ways that even novice gamblers can use to make their most intelligent wagering decisions.