The Citadel at VMI (All Military Classic) (ESPNU)
Covenant at Chattanooga
Appalachian State at North Carolina State (Global Sports Shootout) (ESPN3)
Davidson at Duke (ESPNU)
Wofford at Georgia
High Point at UNCG
Wittenberg at Western Carolina
Sewanee at Furman
Washington & Lee at Elon
Columbia International at Georgia Southern
Martin Methodist at Samford
Army/Air Force vs. The Citadel (All Military Classic) (ESPN3)
Elon at Marist
Wofford at Georgia
1) Who is your preseason SoCon Player of the Year?
Samford- Trey Sumler, Western Carolina. He’s a scoring machine and scoring machines win player of the year.
Appalachian State- Elon. They are picked to win the conference by the coaches and media over Davidson. I don’t think they can win it as Beaumont, Isenbarger and Troutman are all kind of the same player and don’t have a record of consistency.
Chattanooga- At this point, I’m leaning towards Elon, even though I picked them to finish second. I think there is a chance that they will not finish anywhere near that high. Elon is senior-laden, but I would argue that talent-wise, they are not way ahead of the rest of the SoCon. They have never dealt with expectations like this. It is a lot to put on a program to say, “NCAA Tournament or Bust,” and that is exactly the pressure that the Elon fans have been applying to this team. Can they survive and win the SoCon? I just think the pressure gets to them and they don’t live up to expectations.
Elon- Appalachian State.
Georgia Southern- Due to the fact they return less than any of the other ranked preseason teams, I’m going to have to go with Davidson. Simply put, they have the most question marks. Fair or not, with their level of expectations, Davidson could have what most teams would consider a good year but still be considered a disappointment to them.
UNCG- App State. I’ve always thought their coaching was suspect and I still do. Of all the teams predicted to finish in the top four, the Mountaineers seem like the least solid pick. Davidson, Elon and Western Carolina all return more talent and senior leadership. So I’m picking ASU, not so much because I think they will fail, but because I don’t think the other three will disappoint.
3) What team do you think will be the biggest surprise?
Appalachian State- Chattanooga should be that team. Chaos could reign in the SoCon as there’s a lack of quality point guards which will lead to lots of turnovers and quick points.
Chattanooga- I’m beginning to really think UNCG has a chance to do some things this year, but the team that has the best chance to outplay their preseason rank is Samford. In fact, the more I sit around and look at the conference preseason, the more I think Samford and Davidson may be the two teams most likely to win the SoCon. Williams and Kelly are two of the top players in the SoCon. They are going to be a very tough out.
Davidson- I’ll go with Wofford as the biggest surprise. I’m picking them fifth, just one spot higher than the coaches did. They have excellent coaching and some fine players. I like their chances to grab a bye for the tournament.
The Citadel- Samford. Michael Bradley may turn out to be a non-factor, but if he isn’t, and he works well with Tim Williams, look out. Samford could win the league (provided it finds another outside shooter to replace Geffrard).
UNCG- I think Samford has the right combination of coaching and talent to really challenge the top of the league this year. With Kelly and Williams, they are a tough match-up for most teams.
Western Carolina- Samford. The Bulldogs are a program on the rise. Second year head coach Bennie Seltzer has four very talented players returning including Tim Williams, last season’s freshman of the year. The Bulldogs also brought in an impressive recruiting class, adding transfer Michael Bradley that adds size upfront, along with two outstanding freshmen in Jordan Capps and Isiah Williams.
Appalachian State- The last dance of Davidson, Elon, App State and Georgia Southern. This season will meet in Asheville. Next year they will travel to New Orleans, Baltimore and Brooklyn for their conference tournaments. Davidson and Elon are expected to be up there with App State as a dark horse
Davidson- The big storyline all year long will be the addition of ETSU, Mercer and VMI and the departure of ASU, Davidson, Elon and GSU.
Elon- The four departing teams from the Southern Conference after this season: Davidson (leaving for the Atlantic 10 Conference), Elon (leaving for the Colonial Athletic Association), Appalachian State (leaving for the Sun Belt Conference) and Georgia Southern (also leaving for the Sun Belt Conference).
Samford- The storyline: I believe the storyline will be transition. With the departure of Davidson, primarily, who steps up to fill the void? Will Chattanooga return to prominence? Will Western Carolina or Samford make a move? Will Mercer and/or ETSU have an immediate impact when they arrive? If Elon and Davidson fill preseason predictions, these questions loom louder. If they do not, then perhaps the perception becomes that the torch has already started to pass and the question becomes what impact will ETSU and Mercer have on things.