ASUN Tournament Championship Odds, Picks: Kennesaw State vs Liberty Betting Guide (Sunday, March 5)

ASUN Tournament Championship Odds, Picks: Kennesaw State vs Liberty Betting Guide (Sunday, March 5) article feature image
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Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Kennesaw State head coach Amir Abdur-Rahim (left) and forward Demond Robinson (right).

Kennesaw State vs Liberty Odds

Sunday, March 5
2 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Kennesaw State Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
+4.5
-114
136.5
-110o / -110u
+158
Liberty Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
-4.5
-105
136.5
-110o / -110u
-192
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

The ASUN Championship fittingly features the league’s two best teams. Liberty and Kennesaw State finished atop the conference standings this season at 15-3, separating themselves by three games from the rest of the field.

Due to the ASUN’s unbalanced schedule, the pair only met once this year. KSU overcame a 14-point second-half deficit at home and rallied to take down Liberty and win the conference tiebreaker.

The grudge match will once again be at Kennesaw, a place where the Owls have lost just once all season. Like most ASUN squads this season, KSU has thrived at home against the spread, going 8-4 and covering by over three points per game.

From an analytical perspective, Liberty is by far the better team. While Kennesaw ranks 130th in KenPom, Liberty sits at 44th.

The Flames eviscerated most of their ASUN competition, but three road slip-ups cost them the 1-seed in the conference tournament.

Liberty is basically mid-major Virginia. The Flames tend to pack it in defensively, prioritizing being sound positionally and not gambling for steals. Offensively, the Flames are led by one of the best players in the country in 5-foot-9 point guard Darius McGhee. He leads a half-court focused attack that revolves around spacing, cutting and 3-point shooting.

Kennesaw is balanced offensively, not over-relying on the outside shot. The Owls want to play more up and down than their ASUN counterparts and will prioritize the pick-and-roll in the half-court. No team in the league attacked the basket and got to the free-throw line at a higher rate in conference play.

KSU features a rotation made up of almost entirely upperclassmen — the Owls returned the second-most minutes in the country from last season and are among the most experienced teams in college basketball.

Liberty controlled Game 1 for about 30 minutes until the Owls made a furious comeback in front of a raucous home crowd. Both teams scored efficiently, but KSU was especially impressive, putting up 1.19 points per possession against the best defense in the ASUN.

While Kennesaw did hit a high percentage of outside shots — a must against this Liberty defense — it scored at will inside the arc. The Owls’ athleticism advantage helped them in shooting nearly 65% from 2, far above the 45% Liberty allowed in ASUN play.

It's hard to see Kennesaw scoring as efficiently in the rematch. Liberty’s ability to control tempo and force opponents to be jump shooters goes against what KSU wants to do offensively.

However, in front of a juiced home crowd with an NCAA Tournament bid on the line, it will be challenging for the Flames to exert their will and mold the game to their preferred script. Game 1 was an up-and-down affair and played to 74 possessions, the fastest-paced contest Liberty has played all season.

Generally, siding with the team with the better guards in March is a smart decision, and there’s nobody better in this game than McGhee. He poured in 43 points in the first outing and is impossible to contain.

However, March isn’t rational, and home court in the ASUN has proven powerful all season. This game figures to be a close one, closer than the current 4.5-point line suggests. While I think the Flames end up punching a ticket this afternoon, it’s likely that this game will play within two possessions.

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