No. 16 Appalachian State vs No. 16 Norfolk State First Four

No. 16 Appalachian State vs No. 16 Norfolk State First Four | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Written by on March 15, 2021

The good news is that No. 16 Appalachian State and No. 16 Norfolk State are both in the NCAA Tournament and competing in the First Four on Thursday. The bad news is that the winner next gets No. 1 overall seed and tournament betting favorite Gonzaga.

How to Bet Appalachian State vs. Norfolk State NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info

Last Meeting

  • This will mark the first-ever meeting between NSU and Appalachian State.

Why Bet on Appalachian State? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Mountaineers (17-11) are seeded 68th overall — dead last in the tournament field. It’s Appalachian State’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2000 and third appearance in school history. In 2000, the Mountaineers were a No. 14 seed and lost to the No. 3 seed Ohio State, 87-61. App State is 0-2 all time in the NCAA tournament. Its first appearance was in 1979 when it lost to LSU, 57-51.

App State finished just 7-8 in Sun Belt regular season play but stormed to the conference tournament title with an 80-73 upset of Georgia State. The No. 4 seed in the Sun Belt East division, App State won four games in four days to capture its first league title since a Southern Conference crown in 2000.

Sun Belt Championship Most Outstanding Player Michael Almonacy lit up the scoreboard throughout the Mountaineers’ four tournament games and saved his best for last vs. Georgia State. The Southern New Hampshire transfer scored a career-high 32 points on 10-of-18 field goals and hit six 3-pointers at timely moments to help App State turn an early back-and-forth battle into a second-half lead that the Mountaineers did not relinquish over the final 15 minutes.

Justin Forrest was named Second Team All-Sun Belt and Almonacy and Adrian Delph were tabbed as Third Team honorees by the league’s head coaches. It marks the first time the Black and Gold have landed three all-conference honorees since joining the Sun Belt.

This year, Forrest sits second on the team in scoring, averaging 13.0 points. He also ranks second on the team with 66 assists and is tied for second in steals with 38. Almonacy sits third on the team in scoring at 12.9 points and leads the team with 82 assists and 70 3-point field goals made. At the Sun Belt Tournament, Almonacy averaged 21.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists. Delph earned his first all-conference accolade after averaging a career-high and team leading 13.2 points. Delph also has posted career bests in rebounding (4.5 rpg), assists (35), steals (35) and blocks (14).

The team’s forte is forcing turnovers, inducing opponents to cough it up on 24% of their possessions, which ranks 38th in the sport.

Why Bet on Norfolk State? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The last time, and the only time, Norfolk State made the NCAA Tournament was 2012. It was a No. 15 seed. Kyle O’Quinn and the Spartans upset No. 2 Missouri 86-84, doing so as a 21.5-point underdog.

That victory, one of the biggest upsets in college basketball history, brought the program unprecedented attention. More than one NSU player has said in recent years that the school appeared on his radar as a result of the win.

Now Robert Jones, in his eighth season, has the MEAC champions flourishing. Junior guard Joe Bryant’s 3-point range has pushed this team into a top-35 team nationally from beyond the arc.

The Spartans beat Morgan State 71-63 in the MEAC Tournament title game. Bryant led the way with 17 points as the Spartans won their second-ever MEAC title, taking the lead from the Bears midway through the first half and never giving it up.

NSU held Morgan State to just 39 percent shooting, including 3-of-17 from the 3-point line. Along with Bryant, senior Kashaun Hicks added 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting with seven rebounds, and senior Devante Carter tallied 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Carter was named to the all-tournament team along with Bryant.

Thanks to a positive COVID test in top-seeded North Carolina A&T’s program, the Spartans made it to the title game without having to play in the semifinals.

Game Trends

  • Mountaineers are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up win.
  • Mountaineers are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 Thursday games.
  • Mountaineers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games as a favorite.
  • Spartans are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
  • Spartans are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a straight up win.
  • Spartans are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.

Expert Prediction

  • Norfolk State 66, Appalachian State 65
 
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