Top-seeded Georgia State led the Ragin’ Cajuns by nine points with three minutes left in the Sun Belt Conference title game last year before suffering an improbable 82-81 loss in the final seconds. To say that tonight’s trip to Lafayette has special meaning to the Panthers would be a gross understatement. “It’s inspired our spring workouts,” said head coach Ron Hunter. “It’s inspired our summer workouts. It’s made us better . . .Sometimes you have to go through a little pain to have good things happen to you . . .Those guys were really hurt by what happened.”
How motivated is Georgia State to avenge last year’s shocking loss in the conference title game? Consider that when you walk into the Panthers’ locker room, you’ll see “March 15, 12 o’clock” on everyone’s locker, which happens to be the tipoff time for the Sun Belt Conference Championship game. “We’ve got a lot of work to get to that, but that’s one thing that our guys are focused on right now.” Georgia State’s mission of securing an NCAA Tournament berth begins tonight with a win over a very good Lafayette squad.
Georgia State arrives in town with the league’s best backcourt consisting of junior wing R.J. Hunter, who is averaging 19.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, and senior point guard Ryan Harrow, who leads the team in scoring with 19.6 points per game this season. Harrow has developed excellent chemistry with Hunter since transferring from Kentucky last season, and his performance this year as been nothing short of spectacular.
Meanwhile, Hunter could potentially leave for the NBA following the 2014-2015 campaign so there is no question that the Panthers have two of the best players in the Sun Belt, together with boasting one of the elite backcourts in the nation.
Georgia State’s backcourt is further enhanced by redshirt junior Kevin Ware, who is third on the team with 8.6 points per game. Ware was part of Louisville’s 2012-2013 national championship season before suffering a gruesome leg injury against Duke in the Elite 8. Ware is completely healthy and provides even greater depth and athleticism for the Panthers.
Georgia State is averaging 73.0 points per game against teams that would combine to allow just 68.6 points per game, which is good enough to penetrate a subpar Lafayette defense that is 3.4 points per game worse than average (70.3 points per game to teams that would combine to average 66.9 points per game).
From a technical standpoint, Georgia State applies to a very good 67-21 ATS bounce-back situation of mine that invests on certain conference favorites off an upset loss, provided they are matched up against an opponent off two or more consecutive SU and ATS wins. Take the Panthers on the money line to avenge last year’s heartbreaking defeat in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and invest with confidence.