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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, March 5, 2017 at 7:00 PM

March Madness has barely begun, and already several prominent seeds from lesser conferences have suffered heartbreak. Teams Joe Lunardi had been penciling into the brackets for weeks WON’T be going to the Dance. Sorry Belmont, Oakland, and Monmouth! But, in the Colonial Conference, form has prevailed so far. Championship Week kicks off Monday night with #1 seed NC Wilmington battling #2 seed College of Charleston for the only CAA bid.

We won’t have a chance to spend too much time in the mid-majors this week here in JIM HURLEY’S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK. But, the light Monday schedule lets us check in on this one. Let’s see what the key indicator stats (from Ken Pomeroy’s landmark college basketball site) have to say…

(Note that this title tilt will be played in Charleston at the North Charleston Coliseum, which is NOT the normal home floor for the Cougars. They typically play in the TD Arena on campus. So, home crowd, but not home court advantage.)


Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

NC Wilmington: 116.7 per 100 possessions (#26 in the nation)

Coll-Charleston: 106.1 per 100 possessions (#143 in the nation)

Wilmington has a fantastic offense, which is how they broke the century mark in the semifinals! What a show they put on Sunday in that 105-94 win over William and Mary. Better than 60% on two-points shots, better than 50% on three-point shots, and only 8 turnovers in a run-and-gun game. Charleston can be sluggish on this side of the floor. They do rate as slightly above average “nationally” because Pomeroy studies well over 300 teams. But, compared to the basketball you’re used to watching in the major conferences, Charleston is going to look sloppy.


Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

NC Wilmington: 105.0 per 100 possessions (#181 in the nation)

Coll-Charleston: 98.4 per 100 possessions (#63 in the nation)

This is where Charleston has a shot. Even though #63 isn’t great by Dance standards, it’s still a lot better than Wilmington. It’s best to think of Wilmington as the UCLA of the Colonial Conference…great offense and lousy defense. Charleston can at least point to “defense wins championships” as an inspiration for their chances here. They better stay focused for all 40 minutes though….because any run from Wilmington could shup the local crowd up and put the game out of reach.


Pace Ranking

NC Wilmington: #73

Coll-Charleston: #314

Not a surprise here if you’ve been reading our previews this season. Wilmington loves offense, which means they love to push tempo. Charleston is more defensive-minded, so they try to slow things down to squeeze out victories. If Charleston can turn this into tournament-style basketball, they can certainly muddy things up and be there at the end. It’s pretty obvious that whoever forces their preferred tempo on the game will be in position to win and cover. Could be at least a 7-point cover either way if that happens. Will playing in their home city help Charleston impose their will?


Against the Spread

NC Wilmington 13-15-1

Coll-Charleston: 17-12-1

Wilmington has been slightly overrated by the marketplace this season, which is prone to happen to league favorites with high scoring stats. Charleston has been the better value side. Both teams covered Sunday in the semifinals.

Your handicapping challenge here is pretty clear. Do your best to determine who’s going to control the flow of the game and bet accordingly. And, if you’re not betting, study the game for guidance later in the week. We’re going to see A LOT of “slow vs. fast” matchups on neutral courts. We’ll also see some “team that emphasizes offense” facing a “team that emphasizes defense” too. Great way to start the week!

JIM HURLEY will likely have something for you in this matchup given the light schedule. He and his full team of experts have been working since the semifinals ended to find you a BIG, JUICY WINNER! You can get the final word for Monday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. Be sure to ask about “rest of the season” packages for both college and pro basketball. Every dollar you make during Championship Week will multiply at least a couple of times by the end of the Dance!

Back with you tomorrow to take a big picture look at the ACC tournament. That league could send 10 teams to the Dance…so all smart handicappers will be paying close attention. The second best conference this year is the Big 12. We’ll take a look at that league on Wednesday.

This is going to be a great week for all sports fans and Las Vegas bettors. Be sure you GET ALL THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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