Sunday, March 3, 2013

Scanning the SoCon- Tournament Edition

And so it is down to this- our final Scanning the SoCon of the year. It’s been a good year and I genuinely appreciate all the contributors. Today, we’ll answer questions to get you ready for the SoCon Tournament next weekend. Tomorrow, the official Scanning the SoCon Awards will be announced. Check back all week for SoCon Tournament Central. Don’t forget to play SoCon Tournament Pick ‘Em!


Appalachian State- Yosef's Cabin T-Dog
Chattanooga- Mocs Mania- JohnMoc
College of Charleston- King Kresse CougarSurf11
Davidson- Davidson Cats Message Board David Sink
Elon- Elon Pendulum Student Newspaper- Tyler Ash
Furman- The UFFP Message Board- SoConJohn
Georgia Southern- GSU Fans Message Board half-n-half
Samford- Samford Bulldogs Message Board AP
The Citadel- The Sports Arsenal- Sandlapper Spike
UNC-Greensboro- UNCG Basketball Fan DashSpartan
Western Carolina- Purple & Gold Jerry Love
Wofford- Terrier Fans Message Board


Which team without a bye is most dangerous?

Appalachian State- Western because it's Asheville and they came within one shot of being the first team to win four games at the SoCon Tourney last year.

Chattanooga- I’m going to go with Samford. The Bulldogs have the big guy in Tim Williams and the guard play in Raijon Kelly to be a tough out for any team in the tournament. Of course, they lost their last two regular season games- both on the road, both in overtime. They are good enough to win at least a couple of games in the SoCon Tournament.

College of Charleston- Western Carolina. Last year they surprised everyone by not only making it from Day 1 to the Championship, but also pushing Davidson to double-overtime. They obviously have some big time home court advantage in that building. I'm not looking forward to the Cougars' potential second-round matchup against them.

Davidson- Samford. They are playing pretty well right now, taking ASU and WCU to overtime in their final games. They are well-coached and have some solid talent.

Elon- I really do not like the chances of any team in this tournament without a bye because the conference is so top heavy with powerhouses Davidson, Elon and Charleston ruling the SoCon. Call me crazy, but I actually think Chattanooga is the most dangerous team without a bye. Sure, Chattanooga got blown out on the last game of the season at Appalachian State, endings its hopes of getting a first round bye in the SoCon Tournament (if Chattanooga had won they would have finished in a four-way tie for second place in the North division with Samford, Western Carolina and Appalachian State and Chattanooga would have received the bye via the tiebreaker) as they finished fifth in the North with a subpar 8-10 conference record. But Chattanooga has won big games this season. The Mocs beat Western Carolina and Samford on the road this season and were able to knock off the North division champion Elon Phoenix at home. If Z Mason plays very well, then maybe Chattanooga could make a surprise run in the tournament. I do not like the Mocs chances but crazy things can happen in a conference tournament.

Furman- The most dangerous team entering the tournament without virtue of an opening round bye is one of two teams, as I believe Samford has the youth and athleticism to compete with anyone in the league, while Western Carolina will have the home following, and the Catamounts made this type of run last year, so it's not all that unfamiliar to them.

Georgia Southern- Western Carolina. This pick is mostly based on what everybody else isn't and not what WCU is, but with their run to the finals last year and the fact that they have arguably the best player in the league in Trey Sumler I think they are the most dangerous.

Samford- Greensboro is intriguing to me. They have the talent to put up big numbers on offense. I don’t think they are well coached and they don’t have the size to contain Elon’s bigs. But if they get hot, I could see them making a run. WCU is another team that I think has a puncher’s chance. They’ll be playing close to home. They have a proven #1 option in Trey Sumler, who sat out Saturday’s OT win over Samford. Tawaski King is an underrated big whose game I respect and will translate well against CofC. If “bad Charleston” shows up in Asheville, I could see the Catamounts sending the Cougars on to the CAA in style.

The Citadel- Samford gets Furman in the first round and if it gets past the Paladins, might be favored against App State. If it gets to the semis it likely would face Davidson, but it might be better to get the Wildcats in the semis rather than the finals.

UNCG- Western Carolina. I think I can point to last year as a good reason. They will bring a huge following to Asheville that can definitely give them a huge boost. Plus, they've got a pretty good team too.

Western Carolina- Samford – Not only are they capable of winning on any given night, the Bulldogs pairing may help in their tournament run.  Facing last place Furman in the opening round, they meet ASU in the semi-final round.  A couple of things will be going for them, having played the night before and the fact that ASU will not have played in 7 days.  Having just lost to App State in Boone, in double overtime, tells me they can beat the Mountaineers on a neutral  court.

Which team with a bye is most likely to go down early?

Appalachian State- I know everyone will vote App, but CofC better watch out for Western because it's Asheville. I remember WCU destroying Wofford last year after beating El Citadel in the first round. Western's first-round opponent this year? El Citadel.

Chattanooga- Clearly, the choice is Appalachian State. The Mountaineers have been wildly inconsistent all year long. If good Appalachian State shows up, they can compete. If bad Appalachian State shows up, they could lose to the worst teams in the SoCon. This is a mystery team. I expect them to not show up early in the tournament and be out.

College of Charleston- The Cougars definitely face a tough first game against Western Carolina because of the aforementioned geographical advantage. But unlike last year the Catamounts are a lot more one-dimensionally based around Sumler, and I think the Cougars have the personnel to make him less of a factor. Elon is guaranteed to face either a Chatt team that beat them two weeks prior or a UNCG squad capable of putting a lightning-in-a-bottle one game scoring splurge together. App State limped into their bye spot and I think Wofford is a tougher matchup for Davidson than some would expect. So to answer your original question...yes.

Davidson- ASU. They are likely to face Samford on Saturday. When they played in Boone on Thursday, Samford had a large lead late in the game and could have easily won. And Samford should have a relatively easy game on Friday against a depleted Furman team.

Elon- Appalachian State. The Mountaineers were the last team to secure a first-round bye, finishing with a pedestrian 10-8 conference record. Davidson, Elon and Charleston were all able to grab a bye with ease as they were the three most dominant teams in the conference all season long. Appalachian State will face the winner of the Samford versus Furman first round matchup and if Samford is able to take care of business and beat a struggling Furman squad, then Appalachian State could be in trouble in the quarterfinal round. Samford and Appalachian State faced off twice this year, with each contest being decided in the final minutes of the game as the two teams split the season series. Samford could knock off Appalachian State, especially if sophomore guard Raijon Kelly has a good game for the Bulldogs.

Furman- College of Charleston. While the Cougars have a sterling record this season, should they face Western Carolina on Saturday night in the final opening round game, I like the matchups on the floor between the two teams, as I think the Catamounts can match the Cougars athlete-for-athlete on the floor.

Georgia Southern- I think App St is the team most likely to be eliminated first. They are looking at a 2nd round matchup with Samford who they split the season series with in 2 close matchups.

Samford- App State. I don’t anticipate Davidson will be upset, and I think that CofC and Elon are likely to advance. Even if AppState wins its first game against the winner of the 5/12 game, their game against Davidson will be the first semifinal.

The Citadel- App State, simply as the "weakest" of the four bye teams.

UNCG- I guess I can pick the obvious team, App State. The top 3 teams in the SoCon definitely established themselves as much better than the rest. With App not getting the bye until the last day of the regular season, it seems likely that they be the first to eliminated.

Western Carolina- Appalachian State.  Just like many of the teams, ASU has also been on a roller coaster ride this season.  The two teams split on the season, each winning at home.  I think on a neutral floor, the Bulldogs prevail.

Which 1st Round game is most interesting?

Appalachian State- UTC/UNCG. Gee was picked to win the North and finished last. UTC went into a game last Saturday they had to win and got blown out. Shulman is trying to save his job and Miller is trying to salvage his season.

Chattanooga- Wofford and Georgia Southern is very intriguing. The Terriers are beat the Eagles twice during the regular season. But the Eagles have the athletes that are capable of competing for multiple games in the tournament, as evidenced by their home wins over Davidson and College of Charleston this year. This game starts at 11:30 on Friday morning. It’s an early start, but it  should be worth being there for.

College of Charleston- The potential GSU-Davidson matchup is certainly juicy, but I think the other option is better: Wofford vs Davidson. Wofford still has Mike Young, the league's best scoring defense and a volume scorer on their side. The Terriers have a SoCon Tournament pedigree and will present a tough challenge for Davidson in the first round.

Davidson- Chattanooga/UNCG The 10 seed swept the 7 seed this season. But the 7 seed beat the 2 seed very recently. This game should be explosive and fun to watch.

Elon- The Georgia Southern versus Wofford first round matchup intrigues me the most. Georgia Southern and Wofford finished with identical records overall and in conference play. Wofford swept the season series. Given that this is the #8 seed (Wofford) versus the #9 seed (Georgia Southern) matchup, I expect this to be the most entertaining first round game.

Furman- Georgia Southern and Wofford to me is the most interesting opening round matchup, as the Eagles dropped both regular-season matchups between the two teams. It's hard to be the same club three times.

Georgia Southern- UTC vs UNCG. I think Samford should beat Furman easily and WCU should beat Citadel easily. The GSU-Wofford game could be a close one, but it will also most likely be like watching paint dry. Those two teams treated everybody to a 53-47 snoozefest in Statesboro a couple weeks ago. So that leaves the game I picked based on a bit of elimination, but also UTC is going to be looking for some revenge after the 30 point beating they took at the hands of UNCG a couple weeks ago. I'm interested to see how they respond with their pride and possibly head coach's job on the line.

Samford- Chattanooga against G looks interesting to me. Assuming Trevis Simpson is back healthy, I will be very interested to see how John Shulman tries to defend him. Simpson has as much talent as anyone in the league and is an explosive scorer. The Mocs’ defense at times looks like a big pile of kindling wood. If this game tracks the teams’ first matchup in Greensboro, then it should be entertaining. If it tracks the second matchup in the Nooga, then Simpson and Darrell Armstrong will create some highlights.

The Citadel- Eh, none of them.

UNCG- UNCG - Chattanooga. UNCG has really stuck it to the Mocs twice the season. But UTC is the higher seed and played much more consistent throughout the year. Plus, it's the Mocs size against UNCG's shooting. Twice that's worked out well for the Spartans, but you know the saying about beating a team 3 times in one year.

Western Carolina- GSU vs Wofford – Both have identical records,  13-18 overall and 7-11 in conference play. Wofford has beaten GSU twice this season and it’s usually difficult to win 3 in the same season, and with Charlton Young on the hot seat, the Eagles will be playing for his job.

Which potential semifinal match-up is most interesting?

Appalachian State- Elon/CofC. They played once this season in December at Alumni Gym and CofC won by two. It's as fresh a matchup as you'll get.

Chattanooga- Anyone interested in seeing a very exciting semifinal regardless of if their team is in it or not should be rooting for Elon and College of Charleston to hook up. The Phoenix barely lost to the Cougars on their home floor earlier this year, and the two teams could match-up in the second semifinal on Sunday night. This should be a very competitive game and the winner will have earned their way to the Championship Game on Monday night. If neither team is in the championship game, then some team will have really earned it to have beaten at least one if not both of these teams.

College of Charleston- I think Elon-CofC will be a much closer game than Davidson vs whoever. So I'll go with that side of the bracket.

Davidson- Elon/CofC. They only played once this season and CofC won at Elon. Elon is playing much better ball lately. This is CofC's final Southern Conference Tournament. Will they crash out early? Make a Championship run? If Elon beats the Chattanooga/UNCG winner, then a Sunday matchup with CofC would be a chance for Elon to win 20 D1 games for the first time in program history.

Elon- An Elon versus Charleston semifinal is a very intriguing matchup. Charleston beat Elon at Alumni Gym 56-54 in a tightly contested battle on December 1st but things have changed immensely since then. After that loss, Elon ripped of 11 wins in its next 13 Southern Conference games to win the North Division Title. I doubt Elon (the #2 seed in the tournament) or Charleston (the #3 seed in the tournament) will lose in the quarterfinals, so it appears these two teams are headed for an intense rematch in the semifinal round.

Furman- Davidson and Appalachian State to me is an interesting potential semifinal matchup, as the Wildcats blew out the Mountaineers in both regular-season matchups, and while I think Davidson will be favored, I wouldn't expect a semifinal between these two, with so much on the line, to yield another blowout between the two.

Georgia Southern- Elon vs Charleston. Barring somebody getting really hot it's a 3 team tournament. Davidson should cruise to the final where they will be tested by either Elon or Charleston, but the Elon-Charleston matchup should be the first "big" game of the tournament.

Samford- Charleston v. Elon. I think that game will be much more competitive than Davidson against anyone. I think Charleston matches up pretty well against Elon. It will be interesting to see what happens in that game.

The Citadel- I suppose Elon-CofC is the chalk choice here. It was a two-point game early in the season.
UNCG- Elon-Charleston ... The two teams that have traded off being thought of as the 2nd and 3rd best teams in the league. Plus, it's a good coaching match up. I'd be interested to watch it.
Western Carolina- The semi that does not involve Davidson.  Probably, Elon vs Charleston.   It’ll be interesting to see which game Charleston stumbles and is eliminated.

Who do you think wins the SoCon Tournament?

Appalachian State- Can't pick against Davidson. They got the best-possible bracket and are the best team barring another Western run.

Chattanooga- Davidson is the obvious choice here. If Clint Mann is not back from his injury, then the Wildcats thin bench could lead to problems in playing three games in three days. It is going to take some team playing a near perfect game to beat them prior to the championship game. Then it will come down to if they have the depth to win a third game in three days. I think they do, and I think they will.

College of Charleston- Davidson. I mean really, the bracketologists already have them penciled in and have whoever plays the Wildcats as being on upset alert. I do think the Wildcats have a tougher path to the final game than Elon or CofC would but it won't matter. It's Davidson's trophy to lose.

Davidson- I'm picking Davidson. At 17-1, they've had a very strong conference season and are 5-0 against the other teams with byes. It is a talented, versatile team with an excellent tournament coach.

Elon- I believe Davidson will win the tournament, given their dominance in conference play. Elon poses the biggest threat to Davidson because the Phoenix has the best starting five in the Southern Conference. Not only does Elon possess the leagues’ best starting unit, they also have two of the best players in the Conference with junior guard Jack Isenbarger and junior forward Lucas Troutman. Elon proved it can hang with Davidson on Wednesday night, losing 69-63 in a contest that went down to the wire. Still, it is tough to pick against a Davidson team that went 17-1 in conference play and is currently riding a 14 game win streak, with its last loss coming on January 14th.

Furman- Davidson without question is the best team, and I think if the Wildcats can avoid Elon in the title game, they are odds-on favorites to bring home the title. Should Elon get to the title game, then the matchup between the top two teams in the league could be very interesting for a multitude of reasons!

Georgia Southern- Davidson. They are the best team in the league and playing their best ball of the season in the past month.

Samford- Davidson. They’ve been the best team in the league all year. On Saturday, they exacted revenge against the only team that beat them during SoCon play when they beat Georgia Southern by 35 at Belk Arena. During that game, the Eagles were reminded of one of the all-time truths in life: If you come at the king, you best not miss. I think Charleston or Elon could give Davidson a competitive game on Monday night, but I just don’t see anyone beating them.

The Citadel- Davidson is the best team and should win.

UNCG- Davidson is the most consistent team and probably the easiest pick. But, I'm going to go against the grain with this one and pick Elon. I've just had a feeling for a while that this might be their year to do it. I also think Matheny will get poached this offseason by a lower level BCS team.

Western Carolina- As long as the Wildcats remain healthy, no one in the conference will be able to beat them.  A very tournament experienced team, that knows how to win when it counts.

What seed do you think the winner gets in the NCAA Tournament?

Appalachian State- 12-seed. Davidson is on a hot streak and the committee likes hot teams. Right now they're in the 13-14 range but with how voilitale the season is, they have a lot more to gain.

Chattanooga- I think the Wildcats get a 13 seed, but I don’t believe a 12 is totally out of the question. I think that a 14 is possible as well, but probably a bit low. No one will want to play Davidson in the first round, and if they get a 12 seed, they well may be the most popular pick for the 5-12 upset in the first round. The 13 seed presents longer odds, but not impossibly long.

College of Charleston- If it's Davidson I think they probably get a 14, hopefully a 13. CofC (we beat Baylor on the road! Remember? ...Guys?) or Elon would be lucky to get a 15. Anyone else and it's a 16-seed for the Southern Conference Champion.

Davidson- If Davidson wins, I think they'll get a 13 seed. Most bracket projections have them at a 13 or 14 seed. A Championship would have them on a seventeen game winning streak. A 12 seed would be less surprising than a 15 seed. In a debate between a 13 and a 14, I think the committee would give the Wildcats a 13.

Elon-  If Davidson is to go on to win the tournament, I think they will be a #13 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the seed it was last year in the March Madness tournament. Every couple of days ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi creates a mock bracket for the tournament in what he calls “bracketology”. The bracket assumes the current first place team in every conference will win its conference tournament to make the projections. In each of the last two brackets, Davidson has been a #13 seed. Davidson likely earned this seed with its “bracketbuster” win over Montana University a week ago. If Elon or Charleston wins the tournament, I would expect them to be a #14 seed in the NCAA Tournament. If by some miracle a team outside of Davidson, Elon or Charleston wins the Southern Conference tournament, I would predict them to earn a #15 seed.

Furman- If Davidson wins the tournament, and given the Wildcats prior tourney performances, I think they avoid the 15 and 16 seeding, and will be a 14-seed.

Georgia Southern- I'm guessing a 15 seed and that's only because of Davidson's repuatation. The Southern Conference is very weak this year with a lot of underachieving teams, but Davidson was highly touted at the beginning of the season and has a history in the tournament so I think that will keep them out of that dreaded 16 slot or play in game.

Samford- I believe that Davidson is probably on the 13-seed line. Depending on what happens with the major conference bubble teams and their tournaments, I could see them as high as 12 and as low as 14. The best-case scenario is for Davidson to stick on the 13 line, stay reasonably close to home, and get a power conference team that plays stupid basketball in the first round.

The Citadel- As I type this, Davidson has an RPI of 78 in Warren Nolan's RPI simulator. Last year, Montana finished the season with an RPI of 78. Montana won the Big Sky tournament and got a 13 seed in the NCAAs. I figure Davidson would be likely to get a similar seed.

UNCG- Elon will be on the 15 line. Davidson is the only SoCon team to get to the 14 line. The why is easy ... RPI.

Western Carolina- It could be anywhere from a “play-in game” to a 15 seed, it all depends on how the committee rates a very down SoCon this season.  I don’t think a SoCon team goes higher than 15.  If it’s not Davidson, it would be a play-in or 16 seed.


  1. A very good and enjoyable reading for the final Scanning the SoCon.

    Thanks for all the effort you put into this undertaking all season long.

    I can't wait to see how the awards voting went.

  2. Oh- it's very interesting. I worked on it this evening and just got the results. I'll post them tomorrow night. Well done.