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Appalachian State vs. Norfolk State Odds For March Madness First Four Play-In

Appalachian State vs. Norfolk State Odds For March Madness First Four Play-In article feature image

Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Norfolk State Spartans head coach Robert Jones

  • Appalachian State and Norfolk State will meet in the First Four when March Madness kicks off Thursday.
  • On the line? A chance to take on an undefeated Gonzaga team in the next round of the NCAA Tournament.

#16 App State vs. #16 Norfolk State Odds

App State Odds-2.5
Norfolk State Odds+2.5
Moneyline-143 / +120
TimeThursday, 8:40 p.m. ET
Odds as of Sunday and via DraftKings

How Norfolk St. & Appalachian St. Match Up

Norfolk St.
Appalachian St.
All stats via KenPom.

Norfolk State-App State Instant Analysis

This one is going to be an ugly one.

Both of these teams rank outside the top 200 in offensive efficiency and shoot under 47% from inside the arc.

Appalachian State went on a magical run during the Sun Belt tournament, winning four games in four days, all by single digits with two of those games going into overtime.

However, this Mountaineers squad is not aesthetically pleasing on the offensive end of the floor. Appalachian State shoots a ton of 3-pointers (43.9% of its field goal attempts) but is barely hitting over 32% of them. Defensively, Norfolk State allows under 32% from 3-point range, so App State is likely going to have some struggles from the perimeter.

Offensively, Norfolk State does really only two things well. It shoots 3s at over 37% and also gets to the free-throw line at the 27th-highest rate in the country. However, it has little-to-no size inside, as four of its five starters are under 6-foot-7.

That has caused some issues scoring inside, as the Spartans are hitting only 54.8% of their shot attempts at the rim, per Hoop Math. Appalachian State allows one of the lowest free-throw rates in the country and gave up under 35% from 3-point range during Sun Belt play, so the Spartans are likely going to have some struggles on the offensive end of the floor.

Norfolk State plays at a middle-of-the-pack pace compared to the national average, but Appalachian State really likes to slow it down, ranking 310th in adjusted tempo, per KenPom.

So, this is likely going to be a grind-it-out game played in the half-court. I have 132.22 points projected for this game, so if you can find under 135.5 or better, I think it’s worth a bet. — BJ Cunningham

What To Know About Norfolk State

Norfolk St. boasts one of the deepest and experienced rosters in the entire country. The Spartans offense is extremely efficient in the pick-and-roll, and they have four players that shoot over 40% from 3. Overall, Norfolk ranks 23rd in the nation in 3P% but 297th in 2P%.

The Spartans are very reliant on the 3-ball and getting to the line for their offensive output. Defensively, they press and play a “floppy zone” (combination of a 3-2 matchup zone, 2-3 zone and man-to-man) with the objective of confusing opponents and forcing tough outside shots. On the season, opponents have attempted 3s at the 10th-highest rate in the country and haven’t had much success when firing.

Norfolk will be one of the lowest-seeded teams in the tourney and almost certainly be slotted into the 16-seed play-in game. This info is relevant for that game because they have no chance against (likely) Gonzaga if they advance to the main bracket.

What To Know About Appalachian State

The Mountainners are undersized and lack depth, but are extremely well coached and rely on a suffocating on their suffocating half-court defense. The offense gets stagnant at times, but can be dangerous if Justin Forrest, Michael Almonacy and Adrian Delph get hot from the perimeter for an offense that relies heavily on the three.

Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, they project as a 16 seed, which spells doom in this top-heavy season. That said, I could see head coach Dustin Kerns cooking up a gameplan to keep Appalachian State inside a big number in the first round, especially if James Lewis (who got hurt late in the season) is fully healthy. — Stuckey

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