Cap’n Kielar’s Best Bets: Conference Championships 3/14/21by Alex Kielar March 14, 2021 0 comments
Welcome back to another edition of Cap’n Kielar’s Best Bets! Let’s roll with the final Conference Championships before we find out the NCAA Tournament field of 68 on Selection Sunday. Time to add to the bankroll before it’s time to fill out those brackets.
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Overall record: 28-33
Patriot League Championship: Colgate (-9.5) vs. Loyola (MD)
While Loyola has been riding the underdog train throughout this conference tournament, their luck may be running out. Santi Aldama led the Greyhounds with a career-high 33 points in their win over Army in the semifinals while going 3-for-15 from the field. He added 5-of-6 from behind the arc and 12 rebounds. Other than Aldama though, Loyola doesn’t have really anything to play with and he will have to put the team on his back. Meanwhile, Colgate is coming off a 105-75 semifinal win over Bucknell and is one of the best offensive efficient teams in the country. The Raiders rank eighth in field goal percentage (56.5%) and fifth in offensive turnover percentage (13.9%). Jordan Burns is the teams leading scorer with 17.1 points per game who, along with Nelly Cummings and Jack Ferguson, makes up a trio of playmaking seniors. This is Colgate’s third straight Patriot League title game while it is Loyola’s first-ever appearance. Experience and inexperience may have a factory, so roll with Colgate to wipe the floor of the inexperienced Loyola.
Cap’n Kielar’s Pick: Colgate (-9.5)
Atlantic 10 Championship: St. Bonaventure (-2.5) vs. VCU
These teams split their season series, with St. Bonaventure covering the spread in both matchups. This looks to be another close and high-scoring battle as the Bonnies have scored 71 or more points in three of their last four games. VCU comes off a win over Davidson and they have won three of four. The Bonnies allow just 60.1 PPG which is sixth in the country, while offensively all five of their starters have averaged a double-double. St. Bonaventure has had a week off to prepare for this matchup and the strong pressure VCU will present. While the Rams force a lot of turnovers, they also turned the ball over on 21.2% of their offensive possessions in conference play this season. Junior point guard Kyle Lofton will look to take over the game. Lofton averages 14.2 points, 5.5 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game. Roll with the Bonnies to punch their ticket to the dance.
Cap’n Kielar’s Pick: St. Bonaventure (-2.5)
SEC Championship: Alabama vs. LSU (+5.5) and Under 158 (-110)
LSU was beat badly in both regular-season matchups between these two teams. But this game means a little bit more and a much closer contest should be expected. LSU shot a combined 9-for-43 from behind the arc in those two games and lost by 30 and 18 points. The Tigers forced Arkansas into 14 turnovers and just 23% from the perimeter in the semifinals and forcing the Crimson Tide off the three-pointers will be key for them.
Meanwhile, these two teams are some of the best perimeter defense teams, ranked eighth and 16th in the nation in defending the three-pointer. This game could start out slow and it is likely to be more a defensive game. The over/under of 158 is very high for teams that don’t allow the three very often.
Cap’n Kielar’s Pick: LSU (+5.5) and Under 158 (-110)
American Athletic Conference Championship: Houston (-13.5) vs. Cincinnati
Can the improbable run by Cincinnati continue all the way to a ticket to the NCAA Tournament? The answer is no. The Bearcats haven’t been good all season up until recently and haven’t been able to score very well. Houston has won their last five games by an average of 20 points and is 17-8 against the spread this season. Not to mention, they destroyed Cincinnati by 38 points back in February. The Cougars are averaging 77.2 points on 43.8 percent from the field and have allowed just 57.6 points per game. They have three double-digit scorers in Quentin Grimes (17.7 PPG), Marcus Sasser (13.5 PPG), and DeJon Jarreau (11.1 PPG). Lay the chalk on this one and run with it.
Cap’n Kielar’s Pick: Houston (-13.5)
Big Ten Championship: Illinois vs. Ohio State (+5.5)
Ohio State has been able to hang in games this season and in this big of a matchup, they certainly will do it again. Illinois comes in after handing it to Iowa, 82-71, but the Buckeyes have enough talent to keep it closer than that. Ohio State defeated Michigan, 68-67, to reach this game. Duan Washington Jr. led that, in scoring, rebounds, and assists with 24 points, six rebounds, and four assists. The Fighting Illini will have the two best players on the floor in Kofi Cockburn and Ayo Dosunmu, but Ohio State has the offensive firepower to keep up. Yes, their defense is very questionable, but they will do enough to cover.
Cap’n Kielar’s Pick: Ohio State (+5.5)
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