CHARLESTON COUGARS (24-9)
vs. DAVIDSON WILDCATS (25-7)
Southern Conference Championship Game
U.S. Cellular Center - Asheville, NC
Tip-off: Monday, 7:00 p.m. ET
After surviving a scare in the conference semifinals, top-seeded Davidson tries to advance to the NCAA Tournament when it faces Charleston on Monday night in the Southern Conference Championship Game.
The third-seeded Cougars advanced to the finals with a pair of eight-points wins over Western Carolina and Elon, giving them three straight victories (SU and ATS) to start off March, a nice turnaround after seven straight ATS defeats to end February. The Wildcats had little trouble in Saturday's quarterfinals, beating Georgia Southern by an 86-59 score, but nearly lost to 16-point underdog Appalachian State in Sunday's semifinal action, prevailing 65-62 when a last-second, three-point attempt for the Mountaineers was off the mark. That gave Davidson its 16th straight SU victory (8-7-1 ATS). This series has been tight since 2009 with both teams going 5-5 SU against each other with Charleston holding the 6-4 ATS advantage. But the Wildcats took both meetings this season rather easily, winning 77-68 at home on Jan. 19, and 75-59 at Charleston on Feb. 14.
Which team will claim the Southern Conference title on Monday? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts went 65.4% ATS (17-9) on the season's final weekend, with StatFox Gary both going a perfect 4-0 ATS, StatFox Brian posting a 4-1 ATS mark and StatFox Dave at 4-2 ATSfor Saturday/Sunday. Gary remains hot with a 68% ATS mark (15-7) since Feb. 27 to improve to 55.4% ATS (102-82-4) for college basketball Best Bets this season. StatFox Dave is 58% ATS (15-11) since Feb. 28, and 52% ATS (161-150-5) for the season.
Charleston has held opponents to 57.5 PPG during its four-game win streak, but after limiting Elon to 19 first-half points on Sunday, the Phoenix tallied 41 points in the second half. Luckily for the Cougars, they shot lights-out in the semifinal victory, nailing 46% FG, 41% threes (7-of-17) and 83% free throws. Senior PG Andrew Lawrence (13.1 PPG, 3.9 APG) led the way with 19 points (5-for-10 FG, 7-for-9 FT), while junior PF Willis Hall (7.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG) went for 16 points and 10 rebounds. Neither player has enjoyed success versus Davidson this season though, as Lawrence shot 10-of-30 FG with seven turnovers in the two losses, while Hall scored just seven points in a combined 42 minutes in the season series. The only other double-digit scorer for this team is sophomore SG Anthony Stitt (10.9 PPG, 3.3 APG) who made just 2-of-9 shots in Sunday's win, and is 4-for-18 against the Wildcats this season, including an 0-for-8 night on the road. But Charleston might be best served pounding the ball inside like it did on Jan. 19 against Davidson when frontcourt players C Adjehi Baru (9.7 PPG, 8.5 RPG) and F Anthony Thomas (8.6 PPG, 5.0 RPG) each had 13 points on a combined 12-of-18 FG (67%).
Davidson has eight players that log at least 20 MPG, but the main two scorers are senior PF Jake Cohen (14.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG) and junior SF De'Mon Brooks (13.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG) who both shoot better than 49% from the floor and 78% from the free-throw line. The duo combined for 33 points (13-of-23 FG) in Sunday's semifinal win over Appalachian State. Cohen completely destroyed the Cougars in their most recent meeting on Feb. 14, scoring 32 points (13-of-24 FG) and registering four blocks on the defensive end. Senior PG Nick Cochran (10.1 PPG, 3.3 APG) also played well that day with 14 points (3-of-4 threes) and five assists. Cochran took just three shots in Sunday's win, but pitched in with five assists and two steals. Junior swingman Chris Czerapowicz (9.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG) has been great from three-point range (56-for-140, 40%) and has a healthy 11.8 PPG and 5.8 RPG in his past four contests. He did very little versus Charleston this season though, scoring a total of nine points on 4-of-14 shooting.