Furman vs. Chattanooga Odds, Picks, Predictions: How to Bet the Southern Conference Championship (March 7)
John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: David Jean-Baptiste.
- The top-two seeds in the Southern Conference Tournament go to battle for the championship as Chattanooga takes on Furman on Monday.
- The Mocs knocked off the Paladins twice this season, and now they're at full health — unlike those first two wins.
- Ky McKeon of Three Man Weave breaks down why the Mocs will punch their ticket to the Big Dance below.
Furman vs. Chattanooga Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
The SoCon basketball season ends in fitting fashion tonight when the top two seeds in the tournament square off. Chattanooga and Furman have been the class of the conference all season, and both could make noise in the Big Dance as a 12- or 13-seed.
Shockingly, this is Furman head coach Bob Richey’s first SoCon Championship game. Despite leading his Paladins to a top-three seed in the postseason tourney four years in a row, Richey could never get over the hump. He now hopes to lead Furman to its second NCAA Tournament and first since 1980.
Lamont Paris led Chattanooga to its best season in the 25-year KenPom era. His Mocs put the country on notice by winning at VCU before running roughshod over the SoCon.
A bid to the Dance would be the program’s 12th in its relatively short Division I history and first since 2016.
Furman showed its toughness in the semifinals by battling back from 15 points down to beat Samford. The Paladins of the past would have rolled over, but this group — led by four seniors — has the goods to win the league title.
Shooting is key offensively for the Paladins. Richey runs a five-out attack that ranks second nationally in 3-point attempt rate and 19th in 3P%. Every single player on the floor for Furman can shoot the long ball. Richey specifically recruits for shooting, and it has turned his program’s offense into one of the best in the country year in and year out.
Furman is unselfish, ranking sixth nationally in assist rate. There’s no hero ball to be found here — it’s good, team basketball that features multiple weapons on the floor.
Usually, Furman hits shots and rolls to victory. But, as with every team in history that primarily relies on outside shooting to score, it has had cold nights that lead to its doom. In the second matchup with Chattanooga this season (a loss), the Paladins hit just 4-of-23 from deep. If they repeat that performance tonight, all hope is lost.
Credit Nooga’s defense for that first game performance as well. The Mocs match up as well as anybody in the SoCon against a five-out attack. They rank third in the league in 3-point attempt rate allowed and lead the league in 3P% defense.
Paris’ backcourt is chock full of long, athletic wings who can be a real problem for the smaller Paladin ball handlers.
Furman 5-man Jalen Slawson is the key to victory. He can pull the slower Chattanooga 5 out to the perimeter and either shoot a 3 with space or blow by a sloppy close-out. In two games against the Mocs this season, Slawson is averaging 23 PPG on 58% shooting.
Chattanooga beat the Paladins twice this season shorthanded. In Game 1, the Mocs were missing star guard David Jean-Baptiste. In Game 2, star big man Silvio De Sousa and key role player KC Hankton rode the pine.
Tonight, Nooga is at full strength, and confidence should be through the roof.
Nooga is led by SoCon Player of the Year Malachi Smith, a 6-foot-4 do-everything point guard who shoots 41% from deep and is among the best basket attackers in the league.
Smith and backcourt partner in crime Jean-Baptiste are what I like to call “Game Breakers.” A “Game Breaker” is a player who can take over a game at a moment’s notice, score at will in isolation, and hit clutch shots when his team needs him the most. “Game Breakers” make their hay in March; they are the ones featured in the One Shining Moment montage at the end of every NCAA Tournament.
A team is lucky to have even one “Game Breaker.” Chattanooga has two of them.
The Mocs also have the best big man in the league on their team, Kansas transfer De Sousa. Nooga will play through De Sousa or his backup, Josh Ayeni, in the post and punish the smaller Paladins inside.
Any disadvantage Chattanooga has guarding Furman’s mobile 5-man on the other end of the floor is made up with a distinct edge on the block, which also factors into the rebounding effort.
Furman grades out in just the 21st percentile nationally defending the post, per Synergy. Opponents score 0.90 PPP on post-ups.
Rim attack and post-ups are the avenues teams must exploit to beat Furman. The Dins are among the best in the country at running shooters off the 3-point line, and they are the best shot-blocking team in the SoCon despite being one of the smallest.
Slawson is an excellent help-side shot-blocker, an attribute that partially makes up for so-so one-on-one post defense.
Furman is also among the league’s best at forcing turnovers. Unfortunately for the Paladins, Chattanooga is a sure-handed basketball team. The Dins will not force Smith or Jean-Baptiste to cough up the rock often, but they could find success doubling down on the post and either knocking the ball away or forcing a kick to any non-Smith or non-Jean-Baptiste shooter.
If the Paladins can slow down Chattanooga’s big three, they have a shot at winning.
Furman vs. Chattanooga Betting Pick
As much as I love Richey and Furman, this is Chattanooga’s game. The Mocs are the better team and have already beaten the Paladins twice this season without key players in their lineup.
Furman will never be out of this contest with the way it can shoot the 3, but the Dins just don’t have enough muscle to stop the wills of Smith, Jean-Baptiste, and De Sousa.
Take Chattanooga on the short line, and take Chattanooga against whoever it plays in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Pick: Chattanooga -2.5
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