The Elon Phoenix play in a home court that is very small. They have used that to their advantage, and made a true home court advantage. Their home court seats barely 1000 people, and is, shall we say, an intimate environment.
The Mocs have not been great there over the years, and (believe it or not) Elon is one of the teams that drives me crazy in the SoCon. It always seems like the Mocs lose to them when we think least likely. Therefore, Elon is the team that I happen to dislike the most in the North. Most people like to dislike Appalachian State and Western Carolina the most from the North, but my choice is Elon.
Lucas Troutman is the Phoenix best player, more than likely. He averages 15.3 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per contest. Troutman is shooting 53% from the floor. He is 6-10. The Mocs will have to come up with a way to contain the Phoenix big man. He is always going to be a problem. Drazen Zlovaric will have to play huge.
Ryley Beaumont is 6-7, and averaging 10.4 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per contest. He shoots 31.6% from three point range, and 45.5% from the floor. Beaumont leads the team in rebounds. He is another very difficult player to guard. Z Mason will have HIS hands full trying to guard Beaumont. The Mocs, who normally have the advantage inside, do not have the advantage in this one. I'm not saying it is a disadvantage, just that this is going to be much more difficult than the Mocs are used to in the SoCon.
Jack Isenbarger is second on the Phoenix in scoring. He is averaging 14.0 points per game. He is averaging 2.4 assists per game, which is second on the team. He is shooting 35.3% from three point range. Isenbarger shoots a ton of threes. He is third in the SoCon in three pointers made at 47 made out of 133. He seems like the kind of guy who is likely to make plenty of threes against the Mocs. This is a consistent problem for the Mocs. Isenbarger could be one of those problem match-ups.
Then again, the problem could be Sebastian Koch, who is second in the SoCon in three point shooting percentage. He is making 43.4% from three point range, with 36 made threes. He is averaging 8.6 points per game. Austin Hamilton leads the Phoenix in assists with 3.3 per game. He also averages 1.5 steals per contest.
The Mocs will need to play some good defense. This may be a decent match-up for the Mocs. In conference games only, Elon ranks tenth in the league in three point shooting. The Mocs are not good at defending the three, so it is unclear how much of an impact that will be. Can the Phoenix shoot the Mocs into trouble?
The Mocs have been shooting so much better from three point range in SoCon games, and the Phoenix rank eleventh in the SoCon in three point field goal percentage defense in conference games. The Mocs will need Gee McGhee, Rico White, Farad Cobb and Dontay Hampton to be making their long range shots.
LEAD PIPE LOCK PREDICTIONS THAT ARE SURE TO GO WRONG
--The Mocs will make plenty of threes.
--The Phoenix will force more turnovers than the Mocs have been committing since Farad Cobb was inserted into the starting lineup.
--The Mocs are a better rebounding team than the Phoenix, despite Beaumont and Troutman. The Mocs will win the rebounding battle.
--Beaumont and Troutman will outscore Mason and Zlovaric.
--Elon 76, Mocs 68. The Mocs have played well on the road for the most part. Still, they won't be able to win this one. The Phoenix are one of the best teams in the SoCon, and winning in this place will be very difficult for the Mocs. Koch will make more threes, but Isenbarger will make a clutch three or two late to put the Mocs away.