Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#513 Charlotte vs.
#514 Western Carolina
Saturday, March 18, 2023 at 5:30pm EDT
Written by The Tower


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The College Basketball Invitational starts on Saturday, and one of the games will be between the No. 14 seed Western Carolina Catamounts (18-15, 16-13-1 ATS) and No. 3 seed Charlotte 49ers (18-14, 18-13-1 ATS). Both teams fell painfully short in their conference tournaments, but still, have an opportunity to show what they're made of in the CBI. Daytona Beach is a nice relaxing destination for postseason play, but at 5:30 p.m. EST in the Ocean Center, neither team will be in vacation mode.

So Close to the SoCon Championship Game

A three-point attempt at the buzzer in overtime was just a bit off the mark, failing to force a second overtime and eliminating Western Carolina from the Southern Conference Tournament in the semifinals. The loss came to the eventual champions, Furman, who went on to upset Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. The Catamounts outshot and outrebounded the Paladins, but couldn't fully overcome the 20-point hole they dug themselves into. Vonterius Woolbright had an incredible game with 30 points, 11 boards, and five dimes, all of which led the team.

Western Carolina comes into this game ranked 235th by KenPom. They played well on neutral courts this season, with a 3-1 record, and the only loss was the aforementioned game against Furman. They weren't great in out-of-conference play though, with just a 7-6 record.

The Catamounts were one of those rare teams that could hit threes at a fine rate, 34.5%, but weren't efficient in general. Their field goal percentage is 43.1%, a number that's toward the bottom of the ranks nationally. They at least protected the rock, only committing 10.6 turnovers per game, which is top-30 in the nation. That the Catamounts don't play at a slow tempo makes it more impressive.

Their defense allowed 70.9 points per game on 44.0% shooting. Western Carolina held their foes to 32.4% from deep. Don't expect them to get many steals though, as they only average 5.4 per game.

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49ers Rough March

Charlotte closed February with four straight wins, evening up their conference record and seemingly finding their groove. Then March began, with two tight losses ending their regular season and a one-point loss in the C-USA Tournament crushing their conference title dreams. KenPom's 119th-rated team just keeps coming short right now.

A three by Middle Tennessee with 19 seconds put Charlotte down by one in their last game, and their shot at the buzzer for the win was blocked. The 49ers held the lead for most of the game, but they didn't in the final seconds despite an excellent shooting night, as Middle Tennessee scored the final six points of the game. Four 49ers players finished with at least 10 points, and Aly Khalifa led the team in points, rebounds, and assists.

Charlotte's tempo is low, but its efficiency is sky-high. They're 40th nationally in field goal percentage at 47.1%, and 25th in three-point percentage at 37.6%. The 49ers hit free throws too, 74.4% of them, which is 71st.

The 49ers' slow pace helps them hold opponents to 62.8 points per game. Foes shoot 34.7% from deep, which isn't pretty, but only 43.5% overall, which is much more respectable. Tempo plays a part, but they only put opponents to the free throw line 13.4 times per contest, the seventh-fewest in the country.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

Insiders Status:


Charlotte was 9-2 outside of Conference USA play and 8-3-0 ATS in that portion of their schedule. Getting back to playing non-conference rivals, especially an enemy in a weaker conference on paper, will probably be a breath of fresh air for the 49ers. Looking at the numbers, Charlotte should have the edge on both ends of the floor in this contest. They've struggled to finish lately, but I think they'll be up by enough where there won't be pressure on strong closing possessions. I trust Charlotte to cover.

Prediction: Charlotte -6

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Full-Game Total Pick

Insiders Status:


Charlotte plays at a really slow tempo, ranking ahead of only one team in KenPom's adjusted tempo ratings, so don't be surprised if this game crawls. Especially since Western Carolina is a mid-tempo team, so there won't be a concentrated effort to push the pace often. Only three of Charlotte's out-of-conference contests finished over the total, and only three of Western Carolina's did as well. Barring overtime, this game shouldn't sniff 137 points.

Prediction: Under 137

Written By Andre' Ifill , "The Tower"

Watching, playing, and talking about sports has always been an essential part of my life. I graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Communication, and now, I'm striving to be an essential voice in sports media for decades to come. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone more competitive than me, and that extends into my sports betting predictions as well. We're all here to win, and my goal is to make that happen every single night while letting my personality shine in the process. I am honored to be apart of this team.