The Charlotte 49ers will take on the Eastern Kentucky Colonels in the final of the 2023 College Basketball Invitational on Wednesday, as both teams look to finish their respective seasons on a high note.
The eighth-seeded Colonels (23-13) have advanced through the CBI with three overtime wins, including a victory over the No. 1 seed Indiana State Sycamores in the quarterfinals. No. 3 seed Charlotte (21-14) reached the final with a 63-56 victory over the Radford Highlanders on Tuesday.
This game presents a contrast of styles between the plodding 49ers and the run-and-gun Colonels. We’ll break down how it might play out on Wednesday in our college basketball picks and predictions for Charlotte vs. Eastern Kentucky on March 22.
Charlotte vs Eastern Kentucky best odds
Charlotte vs Eastern Kentucky picks and predictions
There are few teams in the country that play as slowly as Charlotte. The 49ers average just 63.6 possessions per game, third-lowest in Division 1. They average only 66.8 points per game, and KenPom rates Charlotte 362nd — or second-to-last in the nation — in tempo.
Charlotte has played to totals of 121, 141, and 119 in their three CBI outings, and have yet to allow more than 65 points in a game during the event. The 49ers have played to an average total of just 129.4 points this year. While this approach wasn’t enough for Charlotte to find much success in Conference USA, it has safely guided the 49ers through the CBI.
Charlotte will face its polar opposite on Wednesday when it takes on Eastern Kentucky in the final. The Colonels average 73.6 possessions per game, ranking 35th in the country. KenPom rates them 44th in the country in adjusted pace. Eastern Kentucky scores 77.6 points per game, and plays to an average total of 150.3 points.
The Colonels have played some incredibly high-scoring games during the CBI, though that’s partially due to the fact that they’ve gone to overtime in all three games. They even played a double-overtime contest in the semifinal, beating the Southern Utah Thunderbirds 108-106 to book their date with the 49ers tonight.
But even without overtime, Eastern Kentucky has been playing to outrageous totals. In the Southern Utah game, the total was 170 at the end of regulation. It was 160 against Indiana State, and 148 against the Cleveland State Vikings.
In other words, we have two teams that are dead set in their ways and won’t be pushed into playing any other way. The question is: which team will be more successful in forcing their style of play on the other?
Both teams struggled to control the pace of play down the stretch in the regular season. Charlotte lost its final three games heading into the CBI, and the lowest total in any of those three games was 131. On the other hand, the Colonels saw two of their last three games played to totals of 121 or less, though Eastern Kentucky was still able to win both of those contests.
If the Over/Under was somewhere between where these two teams tend to play, I’d be wary of playing this total, given the dramatic clash of styles. However, bettors have decided to take the number way down, perhaps in deference to Charlotte’s incredibly slow pace of play.
The problem is that the number is now so low that it’s simply typical for a 49ers game, and doesn’t seem to be taking into account Eastern Kentucky’s pace of play at all. With the total now falling below 134 points at many sites, the Over is the clear play here.
My best bet: Over 133.5 (-105 at FanDuel)
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Charlotte vs Eastern Kentucky spread analysis
Charlotte opened tonight’s game as a 4.5-point favorite. That number has climbed throughout the day, and Charlotte -5.5 is now the consensus spread across the industry.
Each of these teams has played well against the spread this season. The 49ers are 21-13-1 ATS on the year, while Eastern Kentucky has put up a 22-10-1 ATS mark.
Both teams have also been treating bettors well lately. Charlotte is 7-2 ATS in its last nine games. The Colonels have been even better, covering in each of their last six games.
One of these streaks has to come to an end on Wednesday. The 49ers are universally considered the better team in this matchup. However, most rating systems think the gap is rather small. These teams have played a similar strength of schedule on the season, and Eastern Kentucky managed to put up a slightly better record. KenPom sees Charlotte as about four points better, while Sagarin pegs the difference as closer to five points.
There doesn’t seem to be much of an edge here to exploit. However, I’m inclined to take the Colonels and the points. The spread is just a bit too big to ignore, especially considering how well Eastern Kentucky has played against the spread down the stretch. I’m also taking a flyer on the moneyline with the Colonels, as you can get as much as +200 by shopping around at different books.
Charlotte vs Eastern Kentucky Over/Under analysis
The total on today’s game opened at around 138 points. As of midday on Wednesday, however, bettors had taken the Over/Under all the way down to 134, with some sites going as low as 133.5.
That’s a huge amount of movement for a relatively low-profile game such as this. It’s also hard to understand given that the total didn’t look to be outlandishly high to begin with.
Eastern Kentucky has played to the Over in each of its last four games, and that’s even if we don’t count the points they’ve been putting up in overtime during the CBI. Charlotte has been more of a mixed bag, but they’ve gone Over in four of their past six contests. In three of those games, the 49ers have played above tonight’s total as well.
There are no significant injuries that should be impacting the total tonight. While Charlotte plays slowly, there’s no particular reason to think they’ll suffocate the Colonels’ offense, as the 49ers allow teams to shoot 34.4% from deep and 43.4% overall, hardly impressive defensive numbers. In fact, both of these teams rank outside the Top 100 in defensive efficiency.
Those are hardly the kinds of defensive numbers that portend a game that will go under a relatively low total. I’m highly confident in taking the Over here, and probably would have recommended the same bet even at the original total of 138.
Charlotte vs Eastern Kentucky betting trend to know
The Over is 4-0 in Eastern Kentucky’s last four games overall. Find more college basketball betting trends for Charlotte vs. Eastern Kentucky.
Charlotte vs Eastern Kentucky game info
|Location:||Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, FL|
|Date:||Wednesday, March 22, 2023|
|Tip-off:||5:00 p.m. ET|