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C-USA Semi-final #1: WKU vs Old Dominion Preview

03/11/2016

After pulling off the upset of the week so far, the Hilltoppers look to continue their path to the NCAA Tournament today vs the Monarchs.  I fully expect this game to be similar to the two other times these teams played one another during the season.  The second meeting of the season was a physical war as ODU defeated WKU 59-56 on Feb. 18.  I expect this game to live up to the thrillers that those were.  Here are my keys to this game.

  1. How does Old Dominion plan to attack WKU?  This will be the key to watch in this one.  If the Monarchs try to do as UAB did and challenge their size inside, they will fail miserably.  ODU does not have enough size to challenge them physically and attack the basket.
  2. How will ODU shoot the ball from 3-point range? If ODU is not able to attack WKU at the basket, they will have to shoot the ball well in order to score efficiently.  They have an incredible mid-range game because they are averaging a FG % of 44.1% for the season.  This will be the key statistic to watch for in the game because the Monarchs are abysmal from behind the arch.  They are currently only averaging 29.6% for the season on attempted three-pointers.
  3. How fresh will WKU be after playing their 3rd game in as many days?  I cannot imagine the mental fatigue that WKU is feeling right now.  I would say that these players are in terrific physical shape this time of year, but I have to question where they are mentally today. These tournaments are never easy.  This is especially true for the teams that are still around that played on the first day.  We will get a chance to see how physically and mentally tough the Hilltoppers are as they undergo this tremendous challenge today in Birmingham, AL

 

Prediction: I have a feeling that WKU is going to pull this one out today.  I expect them to start off a little sluggish out of the gate, but they will overcome that to continue their quest to go dancing.  Western Kentucky is playing with a lot of belief right now after taking down the regular season champion UAB Blazers yesterday.  Belief can be a dangerous tool when a team enters March.  That is why I expect WKU to win 64-57

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