Elon University Phoenix (14-18) +17, 135 O/U vs. Davidson Wildcats (25-6) -17, 135 O/U, North Charleston Coliseum, Charleston, S.C., 9 PM Eastern, Monday
by Badger of Predictem.com
If Elon University is going to keep its “Cinderella” hopes alive they are going to have to knock off Goliath of the Southern Conference when they face 25th-ranked Davidson in the SoCon Tournament title game Monday on ESPN2.
Elon came into the SoCon tourney as the No. 7-seed, after finishing the regular season with an 11-18 record. But the Phoenix are riding the prototypical wave of momentum following an upset of 2nd-seeded Chattanooga on Saturday, 60-57. The wave continued last night in the semifinal game, as the Phoenix scored a convincing 75-61 victory over the College of Charleston.
With last nights win Elon moves into its first-ever SoCon tournament championship, where they will have a huge task on their hands in Davidson.
Davidson is Goliath for a reason. The Wildcats havent lost a SoCon game in over two years (currently 35-0 vs. league opponents, 45 of last 46 overall), they recently moved into the AP top-25 rankings and they sport the countrys longest current winning streak, now at 21 games following a 82-52 thrashing of UNC-Greensboro Sunday. They are also the two-time defending SoCon tournament champions, looking for a three-peat and their 10th overall tournament title since moving into the Southern Conference.
Oddsmakers opened the title game with Davidson as a heavy 17-point favorite, with a 135 total. The number has moved up slightly to -17.5 on early betting, while the total has dropped to 130 at most offshore sportsbooks. Davidson is also a heavy favorite on the moneyline bet, listed at -2600 while Elon is listed at +1640.
Davidson ran the table in the SoCon regular season largely on the strength of a standout backcourt. Off guard Stephen Curry (son of ex- NBA sharpshooter Del Curry) was named the SoCon player of the year after finishing 5th in the NCAA in scoring at 25.1 points per game. Point guard Jason Richards adds 13.0 points per game for the Wildcats, but he is more of a true point guard because he actually leads the NCAA in assists per game with an 8.0 average.
Davidson is no patsy either, as the Wildcats played a strong preseason non-conference schedule with narrow losses to North Carolina (72-68), Duke (79-73) and UCLA (75-63), three potential top seeds in the NCAA tournament.
Elon is clearly an example of a team getting hot at the right time, a situation that happens all the time during championship week. The Phoenix struggled throughout the year, going on a losing streak of six games in January and February before winning four of their last seven to close out the regular season schedule.
Elon has been playing fast out of the gate during their post-season run. Chris Long sparked the Phoenix with 10 of his 12 points during a 21-12 run to start the game in the win over College of Charleston. The Phoenix have benefited from balanced scoring too, as Montell Watson (15), Brett James (13), Ola Atoyebi (12) and Long (12) all scored in double-digits as they shot nearly 50 percent from the floor (26-of-53, 49.1 %).
Elon comes into the title game knowing they have played the Wildcats as tough as anyone all year. The Phoenix took the Wildcats to the wire at home back on Jan. 9th, losing by just a 59-57 score. The game at Davidson (on Feb. 2nd) wasnt nearly as close (lost 74-64), but in both games Elon covered as 12-point and 21-point underdogs. Davidson has dominated the head-to-head matchup winning 10 straight with a 6-3-1 ATS record.
For the season Davidson has been excellent for bettors, with a 19-10 ATS record including both games in the SoCon tourney. The Wildcats are 6-2 ATS in their last eight SoCon games, with both loses coming as double-digit favorites (12-point and 15.5-point chalks respectively).
Elon finished the year a disappointing 15-14-1 ATS, but its no surprise the Phoenix have covered in all three SoCon tourney games. The under is a pretty strong play for Elon, as the score has come in under the total in 11 of their last 12 neutral site games.
Badgers Pick: Elon is fired up and playing with a ton of confidence right now. But the slipper will break versus a Davidson team that is just too good. Elons momentum will keep it close for most of the game, but they just wont have enough in the tank playing their fourth game in four nights. Davidson will win, just not by 17 points. Take Elon plus the points.