The Georgia State Panthers try to extend their winning streak to nine when they face the Appalachian State Mountaineers in the Sun Belt Conference tournament title game on Monday in Pensacola, Fla. The Panthers were the top-seeded team from the conference’s East Division, while the Mountaineers were the fourth seed from the East and have pulled two straight upsets to reach the championship game.
The Mountaineers have won three games in three days, including overtime victories over Texas State and Coastal Carolina over the past two days. Appalachian State is now 16-11 on the season after going 7-8 in conference play during the regular season.
Georgia State (16-5) has won each of its first two tournament games to extend its current winning streak, which includes a win over Appalachian State on Feb. 23. The Mountaineers won the first two meetings of the season at home in late January.
Georgia State is a seven-point favorite for those betting online, with the over-under set at 136 points.
Appalachian State Mountaineers: Upset Streak
The Mountaineers are getting hot at the right time, knocking off higher-seeded teams to reach the championship game to get on the precipice of joining NCAA March Madness. This is Appalachian State’s first appearance in the tournament championship game since joining the Sun Belt in 2014-15.
The three conference tournament wins so far match the 2000 Southern Conference tournament champion Mountaineers, which was the last time Appalachian State won a conference tournament championship.
Senior guard Justin Forrest leads the Mountaineers in scoring this season at 13.0 points per game. He’s connected on 44 3-pointers on the season.
Junior guard Adrian Delph and senior guard Michael Almonacy have each connected 64 times from beyond the arc this season. Both also went for 19 points in the semifinal win over Coastal Carolina. Delph is averaging 12.9 points and 4.4 rebounds, while Almonacy averages 12.1 points and a team-best 3.0 assists per contest.
Georgia State Panthers: Going For Three
The Panthers are looking for a third straight Sun Belt Conference tournament title and have won eight straight conference tournament games played on neutral courts. Georgia State is in its ninth conference tournament championship game in program history, going 5-3 in its previous appearances.
The semifinal win over Louisiana was easier than the final 11-point margin may indicate, as the Panthers shot 52.63% from the field in the opening half to forge a 17-point halftime advantage. Five different players scored in double figures for Georgia State, led by senior guard Corey Allen’s 21 points, which included 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point range.
Allen has paced the Panthers in scoring all year long, averaging 15.2 points and hitting a team-best 61 3-pointers on 42.7% accuracy. Junior guard Justin Roberts was also solid all season long, averaging 13.3 points and a team-high 4.8 assists per contest, ranking third in the conference in the latter category.
Senior guard Kane Williams was fourth in the Sun Belt in assists per game with 4.2, as the Panthers topped the conference with 17.0 assists per game as a team.
Cinderella Run Ends
The Mountaineers have been a feel-good story for the Sun Belt tournament, but their run is going to end in this one. Although Appalachian State has beaten Georgia State twice this season, the Panthers are on a roll and have much more experience in big games like this one.
Look for Georgia State to come out firing and try to get on top early, putting Appalachian State in a hole it can’t get out of. When you do your college basketball betting, take the Panthers to win and cover to advance to the Big Dance.