It's been 31 games, and about five months of writing on here, and this could be the last preview of the year.
It is certainly true that the next time the Mocs lose will be their final game. They get to keep on playing as long as they are winning.
So, what happens here? Against a team that the Mocs lost twice to, including by 28 points two weeks in McKenzie Arena?
The Spartans defense is not particularly good. Gee McGhee showed against Elon that he is very capable of getting to the rim against almost anyone in the SoCon. Against UNCG, that will be where the key points will be scored. McGhee will need to get into the lane, dish to Z Mason or Drazen Zlovaric if the defense leaves them, or give it back out to Rico White for a three. Will White be hitting? Will McGhee be drawing defenders? Will Mason or Zlovaric be playing at their peak level? Will Casey Jones be showing what the flashes he has shown in recent weeks?
We don't know.
What we do know is that the Mocs have allow Nik Paulos and Trevis Simpson to each have a career night when they have played them. Paulos knocked in ten threes in the game in McKenzie. Simpson scored 41 in Greensboro.
So what's left?
What about Derrell Armstrong exploding onto the scene? Armstrong averaged 14.6 points per game during the season, and is a decent perimeter player. The Mocs really need to make sure that they contain Armstrong. He has scored nine points against the Mocs this year. That is his total number of points in two games. That comes out to 4.5 points per game. For a guy who averages 14.6, that is very surprising. The Mocs will need to continue controlling him if they are going to hang around in this one.
Of course, Simpson and Paulos are the Spartans two best three point shooters. Simpson is one of the top players in the SoCon. He is averaging 18.8 points per game. Simpson is one of my personal favorite players to watch play in the SoCon. I think he is an explosive player that is fun to watch play when he is on. Here's to hoping that I will enjoy watching him for a different reason on Friday evening.
The Spartans are a below average rebounding team in the SoCon, and the Mocs are one of the top rebounding teams in the SoCon. The Mocs will need to control the boards if they are going to hang around in this one. They will need to try to force the Spartans to rely on guys like Kelvin McNeil and Kayel Locke inside. Yes, those guys have been OK, but they are clearly the lesser of the two evils for the Mocs at this stage in the game.
LEAD PIPE LOCK PREDICTIONS THAT ARE SURE TO GO WRONG
--The Mocs will outrebound the Spartans.
--Paulos will not make ten threes in this one.
--Simpson also will not score 41.
--That won't stop Armstrong from exploding for over 25 points.
--McGhee will have a very good game. So will Mason.
--This game will be the most explosive, high scoring game of the day at the SoCon Tournament, and maybe the highest scoring game of the whole tournament.
--UNCG 81, Mocs 77. The Mocs will keep this one close throughout, but they won't be able to pull off the win in the end. The Spartans are not dramatically better than the Mocs, despite the 28 point game in McKenzie. That being said, I'm not sure the Mocs, who give up a lot of threes, are able to match-up with a Spartans team that likes to more from the perimeter than slamming the ball inside. UNCG survives to fight another day. The Mocs get beat in their first game in the tournament for the third consecutive year.