The race for the only title that matters in the SoCon begins on Friday. Can one of the teams playing Friday make a run like Western Carolina did last year getting to the championship game? Would that team be able to actually win on Monday night? Or will all these teams, like all the ones before them, get eliminated without winning a title?
We'll have to wait and see. For now, it's March. It's time for Madness.
And. Here. We. Go.
(8) Wofford vs. (9) Georgia Southern
Time: 11:30 AM
Breakdown: Neither team is particularly offensively efficient, unless by "offensively" you mean that the offenses are "offensive." It's bad. Really bad. That being said- the Terriers have Karl Cohran, who is a really average shooter. He is shooting 36.5% from the floor, and averages 16 points per game. Freshman Spencer Collins is shooting 37.9% from the floor with 12.5 points per game. Lee Skinner and Eric Ferguson are going to have some battles if they are matched up. Both lead their eams in rebounding. Ferguson averages 13.8 points per game. The Eagles and Terriers both struggle shooting the ball for long stretches. If Ferguson gets enough shots and has a breakout tournament where he finally plays up to his potential consistently for four games, the Eagles could be a real darkhorse in the tournament.
Pick: This is a very evenly matched game. Wofford has won twice against the Eagles this year, and it is very difficult to beat a team three times in a year. Still, in an evenly matched game between two tournament teams, I take the team that has the better coach. Mike Young is a better coach thatn Charlton Young. Wofford 52, Georgia Southern 49.
(5) Samford vs. (12) Furman
Time: 2:00 PM
Breakdown: Look- I hate to pick on a team, but I have been picking on Furman more or less all week long. But the fact is that the Paladins play really hard, they put a lot of effort in, but they simply don't have enough healthy players. Can the Paladins come together and play one brilliant game in this tournament? Of course they can. It may happen. Samford has Tim Williams and Raijon Kelly that are among the top players in the league.
Pick: I really like Samford in this one for obvious reasons, but I also really like Samford to win a couple of games in this tournament, and maybe even be able to push Davidson if things work out for them on Sunday. Of course, that assumes that they get that far, and that is anything but a safe assumption. Nonetheless, I am very curious to see how the young Bulldogs respond to a tournament atmosphere. This game may tell us all a lot about their chances of advancing past this round. Samford 70, Furman 53.
(7) Chattanooga vs. (10) UNCG
Time: 6:00 PM
Breakdown: I will have a full breakdown of this game later on since it is a Mocs game after all. But for a quick breakdown, here we go. The Spartans won't be able to stay in front of Gee McGhee if he is attacking the rim. He has potential to have a huge game. Z Mason and Drazen Zlovaric could have equally big games. That being said, the Mocs struggles guarding the three point shot will be obvious in this one. Derrell Armstrong, Nick Paulos, and Trevis Simpson all could go off in a big way for the Spartans. The key will be if the Spartans are hot shooting from three point range like they were in Chattanooga two weeks ago when they won by 28 points. If they are, look for another win. If not, look for a very close one.
Pick: This will be the most compelling game of the day. It is the most interesting showdown for sure. It also is the one that should feature the most offense. Look for a lot of points, and look for the Spartans to come up with just enough points to pull it off. UNCG 81, Chattanooga 77.
(6) Western Carolina vs. (11) The Citadel
Time: 8:30 PM
Breakdown: The Catamounts advanced to the Championship Game last year, and they did it by beating The Citadel first last year. Can they start another run like that this year? They could. If Trey Sumler and Tom Tankelwicz get hot, they can beat anyone, especially if Tawaski King steps it up in the tournament. The Citadel has three solid contributors- Mike Groselle, Matt Van Scyoc, and PJ Horgan. Can Groselle win in his final try in the SoCon Tournament? Going against the Catamounts inside game, Groselle could have a big game. But Groselle scored 8 points against them the first time. The Bulldogs 16 turnovers really hurt them in that one. If they can protect the ball, and get Groselle going, who knows?
Pick: Honestly, I don't know what to expect from Western Carolina. They could play either way. Really. The Catamounts worst game last year in the tournament was probably their mediocre performance against The Citadel in the opener. That could happen again this year. I'd be nervous if I were the Catamounts. This could easily be the best game of the day, or the biggest blowout. I don't know what to expect. I'll take Western Carolina....but a lot closer than people expect. Western Carolina 67, The Citadel 62.