NCAA Picks and Tips: Arkansas State Red Wolves vs North Texas Mean Green
Monday, March 05, 2012
by Mike Stewart

Brandon Walton - NCAA Picks and Tips: Arkansas State Red Wolves vs North Texas Mean Green

In a surprising turn of events, the ninth-seeded Arkansas State Red Wolves and the fifth-seeded North Texas Mean Green will square off in the semifinals of the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Tournament this evening at Summit Arena in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Arkansas State has erased just about any memory of its disappointing 12-19 regular season record by winning its first two games of the tournament, including its most impressive victory of the year, a 64-61 upset of No. 1 seed and tournament favorite Middle Tennessee in the quarterfinal round on Sunday. The Red Wolves will try to advance to the tournament championship game for the first time since 2007.

- Arkansas State Red Wolves (14-19) vs North Texas Mean Green (17-13)
When: Monday, March 5, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Summit Arena , Hot Springs, Arkansas.
NCAA Odds: Mean Green -1.5

North Texas improved its overall record to 17-13 by knocking off fourth-seeded Louisiana in the quarterfinals, 65-62, marking its third win in the past five games dating back to the regular season. With a win tonight, the Mean Green will advance to the title tilt for the fourth time in the last six seasons.

With regard to the all-time series, Arkansas State holds to a 20-16 advantage over North Texas. The teams have split the season series in each of the past two years.

Arkansas State made a three-point halftime lead stick in yesterday's upset win over Middle Tennessee. Trey Finn led the squad with 16 points and he grabbed seven rebounds, while Marcus Hooten scored 15 points and Brandon Peterson added 13 points and eight boards. Though the Red Wolves shot a modest 43.8 percent from the floor, they managed to hold the Sun Belt's best offense to only 43.1 percent field goal efficiency. Finn (11.0 ppg), Hooten (11.9 ppg), and Peterson (9.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg) have been productive members of the team all season long. Malcoln Kirkland usually gets involved as well, netting 12.1 ppg with a fantastic field goal percentage of .572. Despite ASU's balanced offensive attack, its 64.3 ppg ranks just eighth in the conference.

Brandon Walton drained the game-winning three-pointer with eight seconds left in regulation to lift North Texas past Louisiana in thrilling fashion on Sunday. Walton finished with a game-high 16 points and the Mean Green also got positive contributions from Alzee Williams (14 points), Jacob Holmen (10) and Roger Franklin (10). Tony Mitchell grabbed 11 boards and swatted away six shots, and even though he had a poor offensive performance with just five points, it doesn't take away from his fantastic season. Mitchell was an All- SBC First Team selection and the league's Freshman of the Year after posting 15.3 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 2.9 bpg and 58.1 percent shooting in the regular season. Williams has been a great complement to Mitchell in the past few weeks, averaging 16.3 points over the last eight games. Though UNT's offense has been spectacular all season (71.8 ppg), its defensive effort has been solid lately as well, holding its last five opponents to under 41 percent shooting.

Arkansas State is playing its best basketball of the season right now, and after knocking off the No. 1 seed, its confidence is sure to be sky high. The Red Wolves cannot be overlooked, but North Texas finally seems to have put together a solid defense to go with its dynamic offense, giving the Mean Green the edge in this clash.

Las Vegas Sports Betting Prediction: North Texas 70, Arkansas State 65

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Tags
alzee williams - arkansas state red wolves - brandon peterson - brandon walton - jacob holmen - malcoln kirkland - marcus hooten - north texas mean green - roger franklin - summit arena

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