Lipscomb Bisons vs. Liberty Flames Pick 3/8/20
Lipscomb Bisons (16-15 SU, 14-15 ATS) vs. Liberty Flames (29-4 SU, 15-15-1 ATS)
When: Sunday, March 8, at 3 p.m.
Where: Vines Center, Lynchburg, Va.
Point Spread: LIP +12.5/LIB -12.5 (SportBet)
Total: O/U 128.5
Last Time Out:
Liberty beat Stetson 66-62; Lipscomb edged North Florida 73-71.
Scouting the Bisons:
Any time you can take down Liberty and shut down the Birds of Trey from North Florida in the same week, you’ve done a heck of a job. Lipscomb might have a middling record, but the Bisons are playing their best basketball when it matters most. More importantly, they’ve got the kind of obstacle that you don’t often find in the Atlantic Sun: Ahsan Asadullah, a 6’8”, 265-pound center who rarely comes out of the game and is perfectly capable of taking over a game on his own. That’s precisely what he did against Florida Gulf Coast in the A-Sun quarterfinal, as he scored 40 of his team’s 68 points and almost singlehandedly ended the Eagles’ season.
Asadullah is a talent, but Lipscomb’s most important player in this game might be Andrew Fleming. The senior guard has been a nightmare for Liberty this season, scoring 34 points in two meetings against the Flames, and he’s exactly the kind of player who tends to show up in a game like this. Not only is Fleming a quality 3-point shooter, but this could potentially be his last competitive basketball game ever if the Bisons lose. That’s the kind of pressure that can produce a quality performance.
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Scouting the Flames:
This is the pressure situation for the Flames, the game that they wanted to be in, and the opponent they didn’t want to face. Facing North Florida wouldn’t have been a picnic either, but the Flames would have been the more experienced team by a mile if it were the Ospreys. Not so with the Bisons, who will be playing in this game for the third year in a row. For Liberty to complete its return trip to the NCAA tournament, the Flames will need to get a quality performance out of both Caleb Homesley and Scottie James.
You might remember Homesley from last year’s NCAA tournament, where he scored 30 points in the first round to send Mississippi State packing. James was the player who hit the game-winning layup last year against Lipscomb to send Liberty to the NCAA tournament in the first place. Both of these players are big-game guys, and both will have to be at their best in order to neutralize Asadullah and allow the Flames’ talent advantages at other positions to shine through.
All or nothing. In a championship game of a small conference tournament, both teams know that it’s winner-take-all, while the loser will be watching the NCAA tournament on television. This year is a little different because, at 29-4, Liberty will be on the bubble should it fail to win the A-Sun’s automatic bid (an outcome that potential No. 6 seeds across the country are rooting hard for because they want no part of the Flames) and could either find its way to Dayton or land in the NIT with defeat. Lipscomb, on the other hand, knows for a fact that it either wins or it packs up the uniforms, as there will be no postseason bid without the automatic bid to the NCAAs. The Bisons were never supposed to get past North Florida, so they’re playing with house money here. Expect them to play loose and free, which could get inside Liberty’s head.
Lipscomb will Cover if:
The Bisons can get Asadullah established in the low post and force the Flames to focus their defense on slowing him down. Lipscomb’s ideal game would have Asadullah getting established early so that Fleming can take over. Fleming wasn’t a factor against the Flames as a junior, and that will likely motivate him in what could be his last college game.
Liberty will Cover if:
The Flames can win the rebounding battle. Asadullah wasn’t a massive factor on the glass in either of the teams’ two meetings, and Liberty needs to keep him from taking over the game inside. The Bisons won’t be the least bit afraid to shoot if they can count on Asadullah to clean up the mess in the paint, and if that happens, Liberty will have a hard time keeping pace. The Flames have to limit the Bisons to one shot per trip.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
Lipscomb is playing fantastic basketball right now. The Bisons are 7-2 ATS in their past nine and 8-1 SU, and the one loss was an eight-pointer to North Florida because the Ospreys hit 15 3-pointers in the contest. Plus, Liberty doesn’t have any kind of answer for the likes of Asadullah inside. The Flames are more of a guard-oriented squad, and while James provides some bulk at forward, he isn’t the same physical presence as Asadullah.
There’s another factor at play here: home-court advantage really isn’t a thing in the Atlantic Sun tournament. Since the tournament went to the highest seed hosting the final as opposed to a predetermined site, the home team actually has a losing record at 3-4 and has lost the past two championship games. Liberty also hasn’t been the dominant presence in the tournament that it was in the regular season, most likely because the Flames know now that one loss could wipe out all 29 victories in one fell swoop.
A team that’s playing scared to lose is not what you want with the spread. If Liberty can survive Lipscomb, it will be one of my underdogs to watch in the first round of the NCAA tournament, but for this game, I want the Bisons and the points.
Thursday’s Batting Splits
- Los Angeles is batting .265/.345/.475 against right-handed pitching this season.
- Colorado is batting .262/.321/.448 against RH pitching this year.
- The Dodgers bullpen owns a 4.09 ERA this season and a 1.18 WHIP, while allowing a .681 OPS.
- The Rockies pen owns a 4.39 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP, while allowing a .749 OPS.
- Overs are 40-38 in Dodgers games this season.
- Overs are 41-35 in Rockies games this season.
- Overs are 23-14 in games played at Coors Field this season, despite totals regularly posted at 11 and above.
Free MLB Pick
Los Angeles own a significant advantage in the pitching match-up and edges with both the sticks and in the bullpen, so we obviously like the Dodgers here. But that spread is too much. So we’ll give the run and a half and play LA against the MLB run line.
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