Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs Old Dominion Monarchs

The Conference USA tournament will come to a close in North Texas, as the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers take on the Old Dominion Monarchs with an NCAA tournament berth on the line. This game will air on the CBS Sports Network on Saturday, March 16th at 8:30 pm EST from the Ford Center at the Star.

How to Watch

Where: Ford Center at the Star in Frisco, TX, USA.

When: Saturday, March 16th at 8:30pm EST.

How (TV/Radio): CBS Sports Network

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Head Coach: Rick Stansbury {Overall: 20-13, .606 W-L% | Conference: 11-7, T-2nd in C-USA}

Western Kentucky enters this game in search of the program's 24th appearance in the NCAA tournament, and their first berth since 2013 when they were part of the Sun Belt Conference. The Hilltoppers will test the saying of "the third time is the charm" as they take on an Old Dominion squad that swept them in the regular season.

In the most recent meeting with the Monarchs on February 23rd, WKU was beaten on the road at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. The Hilltoppers lost a close one 67-63, with sophomore guard Taveion Hollingsworth leading the scoring effort with 17 points. Freshman center Charles Bassey and senior guard Lamonte Bearden each contributed 13 points in the loss, with the former committing five turnovers.

WKU's arrival to the conference final was made a reality after their 70-59 win yesterday over Southern Mississippi. Sophomore guard Josh Anderson was the top scorer with 18 points, while Hollingsworth followed with 17 points. The victory was one of the gritty variety, as the Hilltoppers out-rebounded the Golden Eagles 44-27 while limiting them to 38% shooting from the field.

Old Dominion

Head Coach: Jeff Jones {Overall: 25-8, .756 W-L% | Conference: 13-5, 1st in C-USA}

Like Western Kentucky, Old Dominion is looking to earn their first NCAA tournament berth as a Conference USA member. A win in this game would send the Monarchs to the Big Dance for the 12th time in school history, and the first time since 2011.

The Monarchs will have the tough task of beating the same team three times in a season. With a combined margin of victory of just seven points between the two meetings, ODU should expect another close game which could be decided by their stout defense, which ranks seventh in the nation with 61 points allowed per game.

Speaking of close games, Old Dominion had to slug through one yesterday in their semi-final win over the UAB Blazers. The Monarchs came out on top 61-59 as sophomore guard Xavier Green had a three point play with four seconds to go in the game. Green was the leading scorer with 21 points, while co-captains B.J. Stith and Ahmad Caver had 13 and 11 points respectively.

Western Kentucky Roster Notes

Graduate senior forward DeSean Murray left the team on December 12th for personal reasons.

Old Dominion Roster Notes

Sophomore guard Marquis Godwin is out indefinitely with a broken foot suffered on January 2nd.

Head-to-Head: Charles Bassey vs Ahmad Caver

Charles Bassey

Center | 6-11, 245lb (211c, 111kg) | Aspire Academy | Lagos, Nigeria | Freshman

14.8 PPG | 0.7 APG | 9.9 RPG | 0.8 SPG | 2.4 BPG | 2.9 TOV | .625 FG% | .474 3P%

Ahmad Caver

Point Guard | 6-2, 175lb (188cm, 79kg) | St. Johns Northwest Military Academy | Atlanta, GA | Senior

16.9 PPG | 5.5 APG | 4.4 RPG | 1.5 SPG | 0.3 BPG | 2.2 TOV | .390 FG% | .311 3P%

One key match-up to look out for is between the top scorers from each team. These players are in completely different stages of their careers, yet they make plays on each end of the court that fuel their team's success.

It's a rare sight to see a top-ranked recruit opting to play at a mid-major, yet it is a path Charles Bassey chose in what may be his lone college season with Western Kentucky. The Nigerian big man has impressed NBA scouts so much during his time in Bowling Green, that some NBA mock drafts have him listed as a lottery pick. Bassey has managed to prove his worth as a rim protector against major conference teams like Wisconsin and Arkansas in games where he managed to block four and five shots respectively

Unlike Bassey, Old Dominion's Ahmad Caver had a pedestrian freshman season in 2015-2016, as he averaged just 2.4 points while coming off the bench. The season after, however, the Atlanta native became entrenched as the starting point guard and upped his scoring average to 13 points per game. His ability to run the point has been on full display this year, as he ranks third in Conference USA in assists.

Western Kentucky vs Old Dominion Predictions and Odds

This game is nearly a pick'em, as Vegas sports books favor Old Dominion by one point over Western Kentucky on a neutral site, while the over/under is currently set at 127.5.

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