Appalachian State vs Western Carolina Preview and Prediction
Appalachian State vs Western Carolina Preview
Appalachian State (5-4) has piled up some impressive wins early on in their non-conference slate this season. With wins over solid programs like Davidson, UTEP and USF have helped solidify the Mountaineers belief that they can contend in the Sun Belt Conference this season. Even their losses have been impressive, going to the wire against Iowa State in a six point defeat and giving everything they had in a 13-point loss to VCU–a game they were in for much of the first and second half.
The Mountaineers have a two-headed attack on offense with Ronshad Shabazz and Justin Forrest averaging nearly 40 points a gamer between the two players. Both are guards which show the strength of the Mountaineers backcourt.
Forrest is just a freshman, but will be a name to watch over the next four years because his kind of talent isn’t found on the Appalachian State basketball roster often.
On the season, Appalachian State is averaging 89.3 ppg on 47.0% shooting from the field. The Mountaineers are averaging 10.7 three-pointers per game on 36.8% shooting from beyond the arc.
It was their defense that took care of USF in their last game, forcing the Bulls to turn the ball over 17 times in a 84-61 blowout victory.
Western Carolina comes in with a record of 2-6, but they have played one of the most difficult non-conference slates in the nation. They have played Clemson, 12th-ranked Cincinnati, 14th-ranked Minnesota and UMass all on the road and losing all of those games.
On the season, Western Carolina is averaging 66.4 ppg on 39.6% shooting from the field. The Catamounts are averaging 8.1 three-pointers per game on 37.4% shooting from beyond the arc. Offensively, Western Carolina has been led by Matt Halvorsen (11.4 ppg, 1.3 apg), Devin Peterson (9.9 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.4 spg), Deriece Parks (9.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.1 spg), and Marc Gosselin (8.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.9 apg). Defensively, Western Carolina is allowing their opponents to average 81.4 ppg on 48.5% shooting from the field. The Catamounts have a rebound margin of -4.9 and a turnover margin of -0.4.
A lot of these numbers will increase as Western Carolina plays lesser competition in the Southern Conference, but this is a battle tested team who knows how to play against better players.
It is hard to gauge how these teams will compete against each other. Both have played stellar non-conference competition that should get them ready to handle their conference slate. That being said, Appalachian State has looked like the better team against the better teams and with wins over solid programs, the Mountaineers are the favorite on the road tonight. I expect them to not only win the game but cover the -4 points Vegas is throwing out there.
Appalachian State 81 Western Carolina 70