The 2021 ASUN Conference Championship Tournament Final is set for Sunday, March 7, so here’s the best betting pick for the North Alabama Lions vs. Liberty Flames showdown at UNF Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, along with the latest odds update on BetMGM Sportsbook.
These two schools meet for the third time this season, and during the regular part, the top-seeded Liberty Flames dismantled the fifth-seeded North Alabama Lions twice with an identical 74-54 result while covering a 16 and 16.5-point spread on the home court.
North Alabama smashed Florida Gulf Coast in the semis
The North Alabama Lions (13-10; 7-8 Conf.) started the ASUN Championship Tournament with a 68-60 win over North Florida this past Friday. The next day, the Lions upset the odds in the semis, thrashing off the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles as 2.5-point underdogs, 96-81.
The Lions had an excellent shooting night against the Eagles, making 54.1% of their field goals and 52.4% of their 3-pointers. Senior forward Payton Youngblood went off for 26 points and six rebounds, while sophomore forward Mervin James added 20 points, six boards, and three assists.
North Alabama is No. 287 in the NCAA NET Rankings. The Lions are scoring just 93.9 points per 100 possessions (310th in the nation) while yielding 104.3 to their opponents (224th). Mervin James leads the way for the Lions with 14.0 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, while junior guard Jamari Blackmon is posting 10.3 points and 2.2 assists a night.
Liberty had some problems beating Stetson in the semifinal
The Liberty Flames (22-5; 11-2 Conf.) cruised past Kennesaw State in the quarters, 69-59, leading by as many as 19 points, but they had some problems outlasting the Stetson Hatters in the semis, 77-64. Although they covered a 10-point spread, the Flames trailed by four points with 7:36 left on the clock in the second period.
Liberty is No. 82 in the NCAA NET Rankings and No. 85 in the KenPom rankings. The Flames are tallying 110.3 points per 100 possessions (56th in the country) while surrendering 100.1 in a return (133rd).
They rank 16th in the nation in field goal percentage (49.3%) and 13th in 3-point percentage (39.0%). Furthermore, the Flames are solid 42nd in opponent FG% (40.7) and 40th in opponent 3P% (30.6%). Junior guard Darius McGhee leads the way with 15.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, while senior Chris Parker adds 10.4 points and 3.4 assists a night.
- 2-4 ATS in the last six games against Liberty
- 2-7 ATS in the last nine outings as double-digit underdogs
- 6-1 ATS in the last seven games overall
- 5-1 ATS in the last six outings as double-digit favorites
Although the Lions are ineligible for the NCAA Tournament, they’ll be fired up to stun Liberty and win the ASUN Conference Championship Tournament. However, the Lions will have a mountain to climb, as the Flames are the best team in the Atlantic Sun by far.
Liberty is undefeated in 11 straight contests, covering the spread eight times in that span. The Flames possess a great depth that allows them to play some very aggressive defense for most of 40 minutes, so the Lions will struggle offensively a lot.
The stake is huge even though the Flames have already clinched the ticket for the Big Dance. Still, they certainly want to win the ASUN Conference Championship Tournament as much as their rivals, so I’ll lean on their defense and take them to cover.
Pick: Take Liberty Flames -13.0 at -115
The under is 6-2 in North Alabama’s last eight games overall, and it is 8-3-1 in Liberty’s previous 12 outings at any location. Also, both of their regular-season encounters went in the under, and totals were set at 132.5 points.
The Lions prefer to play at a fast pace, recording 71.3 possessions per 40 minutes. On the other side, the Flames love to slow down things and average only 63.5 possessions per 40 minutes. Once more, I would rely on Liberty’s stout defense. The Flames can easily shut down the Lions and take control of the flow.
Pick: Go under 134.5 points at -110