Southern Conference Championship Odds & Pick: How to Bet Mercer vs. UNC Greensboro (Monday, March 8)
John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Isaiah Miller
- UNC Greensboro is priced in line with our senior college basketball analyst's power ratings, but there's a better way to find potential value on the Spartans.
- Find Stuckey's preview of Monday's Southern Conference Championship featuring UNCG vs. Mercer below, complete with his pick.
Mercer vs. UNC Greensboro Odds
|Mercer Odds||+5 (-109)|
|UNC Greensboro Odds||-5 (-112)|
|Moneyline||+180 / -220|
|Time | TV||Monday, 7 p.m. ET | ESPN|
|Odds as of 1 p.m. ET on Monday and via DraftKings.|
And then there were two.
Top-seeded UNC Greensboro survived a weekend of upsets to make it to Monday’s title game to face a surprise opponent in No. 7 seed Mercer. The winner will punch their ticket to the dance and secure what should be the only bid from the league.
You may remember the 2014 Mercer team that upset Duke in the NCAA Tournament — those Bears came out of the Atlantic Sun conference before moving to the Southern Conference the following season. UNCG hopes in can win on Monday night then pull off a similar upset for the program’s first ever NCAA Tournament victory.
The Spartans last danced back in 2018, when they gave 4-seeded Gonzaga a scare in the first round with a four-point loss.
So, who will end up in the bracket? Let’s take a closer look.
Mercer | (18-10, 8-9 SoCon)
So, how did Mercer get here? Well, winning three games in three days is always impressive, but they’ve had some help.
The Bears started with a victory over a shorthanded Samford team coming off a covid break. They then held on for dear life for a one-point win over Wofford after leading by 17 at the half. Wofford, the nation’s most 3-point reliant team, shot just 10-36 (27.8%) from beyond the arc.
Then in the semis, Mercer took out a VMI team — also off a recent shutdown playing on back-to-back days after a crazy overtime comeback against Furman — with relative ease. However, the Keydets are also very reliant on the 3 and shot just 4-25 (16%) from deep. The Bears have benefited from poor shooting from their opponents and catching them in favorable spots.
Overall, Mercer runs a beautiful motion offense that results in plenty of open looks either at the rim or for its very capable outside shooters. For the season, Mercer ranks 30th in Effective Field Goal %, per KenPom. The Bears won’t get many offensive rebounds, but they rank in the 88th-percentile in terms of overall offensive Points Per Possession, per Synergy.
The defense is nowhere close to as effective, as they can really be taken off the dribble and struggle to defend user-athletic guards.
UNC Greensboro | (20-8, 13-5 SoCon)
The Spartans have had a relatively straightforward path to the final with two easy victories over The Citadel and ETSU.
The half-court offense can be extremely ugly at times for a team that simply can’t shoot (313th in 3-point percentage). While the shooting struggles are well-documented, they at least don’t turn it over and can do damage on the offensive glass when they aren’t scoring off turnovers.
But make no mistake about it, the Spartans make their living on the defensive end.
Head coach Wes Miller is known for his suffocating press defense. UNCG presses at the fourth-highest rate in the country, trailing only Samford, Portland State and Eastern Kentucky. Senior point guard Isiah Miller runs the show and is a relentless on-ball defender.
Betting Analysis & Pick
I will say that Mercer doesn’t have extreme turnover issues from a metric standpoint and they have graded out fairly well against the press this season. However, UNCG still swept both regular season meetings despite only forcing 10 and 12 turnovers. Its press and pressure is still effective in disrupting what Mercer wants to run in the half-court.
Ultimately, I make UNCG about a 4-point favorite from a raw number perspective, but I want no part of Mercer on Monday night. The Bears, who only usually play seven and rank outside the top 300 in bench minutes, will be playing their fourth game in four days against the UNCG pressure. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Meanwhile, UNCG has plenty of depth and will be playing only its third game of the weekend. Legs should not be an issue for the Spartans.
The dream here is to have Mercer take a lead into the half, which will enable us to get UNCG at a much better price for the second half. In this scenario, we should see the Mercer legs go in the second half and Miller and Co. will have issues putting up points in potential comeback mode against a Mercer defense that has let teams back in games all season.
I also don’t mind UNCG as a moneyline parlay piece.
Pick: UNCG 2H if trailing at halftime