Fresno State vs. Coastal Carolina Prediction: Who Wins the Basketball Classic Final?

The Fresno State Bulldogs will take on the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in the College Basketball Classic championship tonight. Who will win it all? Ben Rajavuori breaks down the game.
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Fresno State vs. Coastal Carolina Prediction: Who Wins the Basketball Classic Final?

The college basketball season is coming to an end as the NIT has a champion, the Final Four starts tomorrow, and a Basketball Classic champion will be named tonight. The Fresno State Bulldogs will take on the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in the College Basketball Classic championship at the HTC Center at 6:00 p.m. EST tonight. The Bulldogs currently sit as three-point favorites despite being on the road here. Can the Chanticleers pull off the slight upset and emerge the College Basketball Classic champions?

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Fresno State vs. Coastal Carolina Prediction

Coastal Carolina enters this game with a 19-13 record on the season, finishing an even 8-8 in conference play (8-9 if you include the conference tournament). They also had a wild ending in the semifinals game to make it to this championship matchup. In the semifinals matchup against South Alabama, Vince Jones hit the game-tying three with 10 seconds left to force overtime, then Rudi Williams hit the game-winning three with just one second left to beat South Alabama 69-68. The Chanticleers got out-rebounded, fouled more, and had more turnovers, yet got bailed out with a near 50% shooting performance to move past South Alabama. Fresno State's 32nd ranked defense won't be as forgiving if the Chanticleers don't clean up their fundamentals in this contest.

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The Bulldogs have had an up-and-down season due to their offensive woes, but this team plays great defense, and defense goes far in March (well, April now, I guess). Fresno State enters this matchup with a 22-13 record and finished 8-9 in conference play. Orlando Robinson is one of the best players in the nation and is a fantastic two-way player. He can shut down the paint and has one of the higher block rates in the country, but also averages nearly 20 points per game. He is great at taking the eyes off his teammates and drawing attention before dishing the ball out.

The Bulldogs have to score to win, though, and one of their best perimeter shoots has been Anthony Holland, who is questionable with a hamstring injury. He should play in this one, considering it's a championship game, but if he isn't able to go, that will be a missing piece to the perimeter offense for the Bulldogs that they have been able to replace the last few games. Holland didn't play in the quarterfinal or semifinal game but played in the first round against Eastern Washington and shot 4/8 from behind the perimeter. If the Bulldogs get Holland back for this contest, that will be a significant addition.

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One thing to keep in mind about these championship games in the postseason is the pace. Usually, championship games have a slow, grinding pace, emphasizing defense and drawn-out possessions. The total as such is only 126.5 for this contest. This is music to the Bulldog's ears, as this has been their usual play-style all year, to begin with. The Bulldogs enter this one with the fourth-slowest adjusted tempo in the nation, averaging just 61.6 combined possessions per game.

The Chanticleers play at an above-average pace but will be forced to slow the tempo down in this one, stepping out of their comfort zone. This game will be right in the Bulldog's wheelhouse, which is probably why they've had such success in this tournament. The Bulldogs have been drawing out defensive possessions and forcing opponents late into the shot clock with bad looks all season, so they are well prepared for a similar game tonight.

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Fresno State has the better fundamentals and is a more balanced team. They will have the rebounding, turnover, free-throw, tempo, and defensive edge in this one. Coastal Carolina has not been a disciplined team this season and has had turnover and free-throw issues. Fresno State does have offensive cold stretches in games and is more of a defensive team, but in a championship game with a slower pace and longer possessions, the Bulldogs should be okay.

The Bulldogs have actually been shooting surprisingly well in this tournament, and Coastal Carolina is no defensive specialty in the backcourt. Orlando Robinson should be the difference down low, and Fresno State will walk away with the championship tonight.

Fresno State vs. Coastal Carolina Pick

Pick: Fresno State -3 (-110) (Bet $110 to Win $100)

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Ben Rajavuori is a handicapper out of Minneapolis, MN. He has been creating sports content for almost four years now and is an expert in all things NFL, MLB, NBA, UFC, and NCAAB. Ben thrives on diving deep into statistics to find the best angle on every bet. You can follow him on Twitter @WeBeatTheSpread.

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