Abilene Christian vs. Nicholls State Odds & Pick: How to Bet the Southland Tournament Championship (March 13)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Abilene Christian head coach Joe Golding.
- Abilene Christian vs. Nicholls State is the rare conference title game featuring two teams that did not meet in the regular season.
- The two top teams in the Southland Conference combined for just four losses in 31 conference games this season.
- Continue reading to find out who has the edge to secure the NCAA Tournament bid.
Southland Conference Championship
Abilene Christian vs. Nicholls State Odds
|Abilene Christian Odds||-7|
|Nicholls State Odds||+7|
|Moneyline||-315 / +250|
|Time | TV||9:30 p.m. ET | ESPN2|
|Odds as of Saturday at noon ET and via DraftKings.|
The Southland got what it wanted here, as its top two seeds took advantage of the mega-ladder tournament setting to meet in the finals. Both teams received byes to the semifinals, and that means both are relatively rested, which should hopefully lead to a quality championship.
Interestingly, these two have not met this year, as the conference more or less divided into “Texas” and “East of Texas” divisions (my names, not theirs). That creates a strange dynamic for a tournament final; it lacks the familiarity and prior-matchup precedents which are often useful indicators.
To knock off Abilene Christian, Nicholls absolutely needs to do two things: Take care of the ball and compete in the paint. Fortunately, Austin Claunch’s squad is well-equipped to do both.
The Colonels led the entire Southland in turnover rate this year, and a senior-laden backcourt should help them handle Abilene’s relentless pressure. Against similar pressure-heavy opponents like Sam Houston State and Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls mostly did not cough the ball up, though a 25-turnover game against SHSU did set off some warning sirens.
Even the frontcourt is loaded with experience. Ryghe Lyons, the Colonels’ 6-foot-11, 280-pound senior center, will be crucial, as Abilene Christian ranks in the top-10 nationally in frequency of post ups, per Synergy. Seven-footer Kolton Kohl has been thoroughly dominant against smaller Southland competition, but Lyons is the rare foe with the size to combat him in the paint. Claunch can also turn to bruising veterans Najee Garvin and Damien Sears, who had previous stops at Charlotte and St. John’s, respectively.
The Wildcats are clearly the better squad, though, which is obviously evidenced by the line. Abilene Christian has a superb coach in Joe Golding who has quickly built the Wildcats into a Southland power after transitioning from Division II, and Nicholls may struggle to score against Abilene’s relentless combination of size, depth and physicality on the defensive end.
In picking Nicholls, I was hoping that Abilene would be short-handed for this one after key rotation pieces Clay Gayman and Coryon Mason missed the regular season finale, but they both returned in the semifinal route over Lamar, so no such luck there. Still, I make this number Abilene Christian -5, so I will take the Colonels as both a numerical value and matchup play.
Pick: Nicholls State +7