Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Daily Dribbles- 12/31/13

--The last day of 2013 produces just one SoCon game- Elon's game against Duke. If the Phoenix win,
 all the drinks of New Year's Eve are on me! Not really. Sorry. Still unlikely for Elon to win.

--The SoCon won two non-D1 games on Monday night, and also went 4-2 against D1 teams. Furman beat UC-Davis, Chattanooga beat Maine, Wofford beat High Point, and Samford beat Presbyterian. North Carolina State beat UNCG in a very close game. Georgia Southern lost a road game to Campbell, which was the worst performance of the night.

--Trey Sumler poured in 40 against Milligan on Monday night.

--Everyone be safe out there on New Year's Eve. Hope you've enjoyed reading this blog in 2013 as much as I've enjoyed writing it.

Mocs 86, Black Bears 80

It's nice to be Dr Pepper Classic Champions. It never gets old, even if the Mocs have done it now sixteen times in 24 years. The win over Maine was very satisfying.

Maine made 14 of 22 from three point range against Middle Tennessee. They made 9 of 22 against the Mocs on Monday night. Dimitry Coronel knocked down 5 of 7 from long range and scored 18 points in the first half, but only scored six in the second half. The second half slow down of Coronel and the Black Bears not shooting quite as well was the reason the Mocs won.

The Mocs were lead by Gee McGhee and Casey Jones for much of the night. McGhee finally showed some of the offensive spark that he's been missing. He actually knocked down a couple of threes, which seemed to help him be more aggressive attacking the basket. He wound up with 17 points and ten assists. That's a really good night for McGhee and it was good to see.

Jones scored 20, making his first nine shots from the floor. He missed his last two, but ended up with five rebounds and three steals. Rico White scored 20 points on the night, knocking down five of five from three point range. White is clearly starting to look like himself. He scored twenty points. He took over point guard duties for much of the game. If he continues to play like that, the Mocs are going to be a much tougher out. He clearly brings a presence to the game that has been lacking. He can knock down shots.

Z Mason won his second straight Dr Pepper Classic MVP Award. He scored 15 points with 15 rebounds and three blocks. Truthfully, I thought Mason looked a little out of sync in each of the last two games. But he made the big plays when it mattered most. He came up with a fingernail block late in the game that was huge in preserving the Mocs victory.

Mason is getting healthy and White is finally back to form from his hip surgery. Lance Stokes is rounding back into form. With all the pieces back together, you can see the team rounding into shape. Jim Reynolds said it during the game- you could almost see possession by possession the Mocs gaining some chemistry on the floor. He said that in the first half- a first half that saw Maine jump out to an eleven point lead and the Mocs come back to trim it to four by halftime.

The Mocs still are not putting together full games. They work hard, but they are getting closer game by game to putting it all together. This team is not great defensively against driving teams like Maine, but they showed tonight that they could score enough to win games where they can't stop someone.

It's nice to win. Now the Mocs head into the SoCon season with a 6-8 record and we'll see what happens at Furman and at The Citadel this coming week.


Four Factors: Maine

Black Bears- 53.8%
Mocs- 60.8%
Advantage- Mocs

Black Bears- 18.4%
Mocs- 19.8%
Advantage- Black Bears

Black Bears- 25.6%
Mocs- 31.6%
Advantage- Mocs

Black Bears- 19.7%
Mocs- 45.0%
Advantage- Mocs

Black Bears- 9
Mocs- 8
Advantage- Black Bears

Black Bears- 40.9%
Mocs- 44.0%
Advantage- Mocs

Possessions: 76

Monday, December 30, 2013

SoCon Dork Tour - Drexel at Davidson

(posted by dorp)
A rare Sunday game, as the Dragons visited Davidson.  I attended the game in Philly last fall, where the Wildcats barely got any rebounds.  I was hoping this game would be better than that trip.  Pregame was at Brickhouse.  Sunday afternoon games (including football) always introduce the wait for adult beverages at noon.

Note that the last names are bigger than "Drexel"

I have no words for this.

To summarize the game: we lost.  Grumble grumble.

Miles traveled: 168.  Season total 1548.

Attendance: Dorp 9 (Cats 2-6).  Graveline 5 (0-5).  Mrs. Dorp 4 (1-2). JAM 4 (1-2).

SoCon Dork Tour - JMU at UNCG

(posted by dorp)
A quiet Wednesday night in the 'Boro fed perfectly into a local dork tour stop.  I attended the game with the Davidsoncats.com resident polygamist.  He's a fan of many teams, including JMU.  The students weren't in school, so the game was lightly attended.

Wes Miller can't get a tailor sponsorship?

A picture of most of the fans in attendance.

The kid in orange was a foot taller than the rest of the kids.  He won.

JMU was up 6 with 17:28 left in the second half.  
17:28 Dunk by Kyle Cain (JMU up 4)
17:01 3-pointer by Kyle Cain (JMU up 1)
16:25 3-pointer by Tyrone Outlaw (UNCG up 2)
JMU 30 second timeout.
That stretch basically made the difference, as the Spartans pulled away from there.

Miles traveled: 1

Attendance: Dorp 10 (Cats 2-5).  Graveline 5 (0-5).  Mrs. Dorp 4 (1-2). JAM 4 (1-2).

SoCon Dork Tour - UNCC

(posted by dorp)
At the beginning of the season, this game wasn't on the dork tour agenda, for reasons not limited to those graveline mentions here.  But things happen.  On Thanksgiving morning, I ran the Greensboro Gobbler 5K.  A UNCC acquaintance asked if I was attending the game the next Wednesday.  I said no.  He asked why.  I said I was chicken.  The Sunday after Thanksgiving, Mrs. Dorp and I were lining up the weekly calendar.  I explained that there was a Presbyterian at UNCG game on Tuesday and then I wanted to be home to watch the Wildcats play at UNCC.  She was confused.  I'm paraphrasing, but she said "You're not going to the game at Charlotte, but you're going to watch UNCG play some other crappy team?" Third, a few Wildcat faithful contacted me and asked where the pregame festivities would be.  So with my fanhood fully questioned, I made the trip to the Halton House of Horrors.  

Pregame was at Picasso's, a UNCC pizza sportsbar place.  To quote one of the Finer fans in attendance "I don't even know why we play Davidson.  They suck- they have like one win.  And App State too.  Those teams suck." Adorning the wall of Picasso's is a banner from a past NCAA trip.  They obviously haven't made any significant updates to their place in many years.

You'd think Picasso's would have better artwork.

At the game, we found our seats in front of a few faithful D-Block guys.  We made a few seat rearrangements, as a few older Wildcat fans were mixed in.  It was a weak Wildcat fan showing.  I'd estimate 150.
Niner fan whining about something.

Obligatory picture of the game.

And victory is ours.

Blurry picture of the team with the ugly trophy.

Wardrobe:  Feed the Swede shirt.

Miles traveled: 164.  Season total 1380.

Attendance: Dorp 8 (Cats 2-5).  Graveline 4 (0-4).  Mrs. Dorp 4 (1-2). JAM 4 (1-2).

Daily Dribbles- 12/30/13

--If anyone doubted that we were in full on college basketball mode now, look no further than  Monday's schedule. There are eight games featuring SoCon teams on Monday. Maine plays Chattanooga in the Dr Pepper Classic Championship Game (after Maine shocked Middle Tennessee in the opener of the Dr Peppper Classic). Bluefield goes to Appalachian State. Campbell hosts Georgia Southern. Milligan goes to Western Carolina. Wofford hosts High Point. UNCG is at North Carolina State, trying to make it two ACC opponents in a row. Presbyterian goes to Samford. Furman is at UC-Davis. That's a full schedule. The SoCon has been playing better lately. With six D1 games on Monday, would it be shocking if the SoCon won four of those? Not really. This could be a good day for the SoCon.

--UNCG shocked Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Saturday and Kyle Cain was amazing. The Spartans collected just their second win ever over an ACC team.

--The SoCon is still rated the 30th conference per LiveRPI, but they are very close to the Big South. Truthfully, the Atlanic Sun all way up at 25th is reasonably close. It's unlikely that the SoCon moves up that far, but it is possible.

--This week's SoCon schedule features six conference games. I know I'm ready for them. The team to watch this week is Western Carolina, who hosts both UNCG on Thursday and Elon on Saturday. We'll know a lot more about the Catamounts by this time next week.

--Z Mason played again for Chattanooga in their 69-64 win over Grand Canyon on Sunday. That's good news for the Mocs.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Scanning the SoCon- Week Nine

Each week, fans and bloggers from around the SoCon are surveyed for the latest opinions on the SoCon. This is our third year of Scanning the SoCon, and hopefully our best year yet.


Maine at Chattanooga (Dr Pepper Classic)
Bluefield at Appalachian State
Georgia Southern at Campbell
Milligan at Western Carolina
High Point at Wofford
UNCG at North Carolina State
Presbyterian at Samford
Furman at UC-Davis

Duke vs. Elon in Greensboro, NC

College of Charleston at Davidson

The Citadel at Radford
Appalachian State at Duquesne
UNCG at Western Carolina
Wofford at Samford

Elon at Western Carolina
Samford at Georgia Southern
Chattanooga at Furman
Davidson at Wofford


1) Davidson 75 (5)
2) Elon 66 (2)
3t) Western Carolina 61
3t) UNCG 61
5) Georgia Southern 47
6) Wofford 42
7) Samford 33
8) Chattanooga 29
9) Furman 26
10) Appalachian State 13
11) The Citadel 9


Kyle Cain, UNCG- 5 votes

Others receiving votes- Jelani Hewitt, Georgia Southern (1 vote), Sebastian Koch, Elon (1 vote)


Elon at Western Carolina- 3 votes

Others receiving votes- College of Charleston at Davidson (2 votes), UNCG at Western Carolina (1 vote), Wofford at Samford (1 vote)


Sum up your team.

Appalachian State- I don't wanna. It's just been a continuing exercise in futility. Losing to Winthrop and Presbyterian is a all-time low. Struggling against North Greenville didn't help. Now this team has their fourth and final sub-D1 game against Bluefield College, then their final non-conference game against Duquesne later in the week. No word on when Canty will return. The good news is that the team looked as good against NAIA Milligan as they could, but it doesn't give any hope to the future. With Elon, UNCG and Davidson next week to start the SoCon schedule plus the chance of Canty returning, the season could be salvaged but let's not get ahead of ourselves here

Chattanooga- The Mocs have been painful to watch at times this year, but showed some signs of life against UAB a few weeks back and then beat Grand Canyon on Sunday night. The Mocs still have a lot of work that needs to get done, but with the team maybe finally get sort of healthy with Rico White and Z Mason back, and Lance Stokes not looking quite as hobbled, maybe they can make a run in the SoCon.

Western Carolina- The Cats have not played since their last second loss at Georgia back on December 21. In case you didn't see that game, the Cats were called for 26 fouls by the SEC officials, while blowing the whistle only 13 times against the Bulldogs.

As we head into the SoCon season, if your team is leaving, which team in the SoCon are you going to miss the most? If your team is not leaving, which team that is leaving are you going to miss the most?

Appalachian State- Davidson because it's a short trip of 100ish miles and it's a big deal to both teams. If the games are scheduled right (unlike this year where the only meeting in January 9th), then it's a big gate for both schools. For some reason App plays Davidson very well in Belk and has won three of their last five there. Plus the $2 Brickhouse beers.

Georgia Southern- The team I'm going to miss playing the most is actually already gone. The College of Charleston was always the team I like to see GSU play, and beat, the most. This stems from the great matchups these two teams had when I was at Georgia Southern in the early 2000's. My first season of closely following GSU basketball was the 2003-2004 season and two of my best memories of GSU basketball came from that season when GSU came back from down double digits with about 10 minutes to play to beat Charleston infront of one of the largest and loudest crowds I've ever seen in Hanner Fieldhouse. Then a few weeks later GSU went to Charleston and again beat Charleston in a packed Kresse Arena. The current SoCon team that I'm going to miss the most is UTC. I've followed their program since the NCAA tournament appearances of the mid 90's and always thought highly of the UTC basketball program. Two of my biggest SoCon memories come against UTC as well. The first one isn't a great one as it was when UTC ended GSU's run in that 2003-2004 conference tournament with an overtime win in the semifinals. The second one came a couple years ago in my first trip to Chattanooga to watch GSU take on the Mocs. The Eagles came storming back from down 16 points with 12 minutes to play and Jelani Hewitt won the game on a 3 pointer at the buzzer. The games with UTC are something I'll definitely miss.

Western Carolina- For most WCU fans, I'd say we'll miss the Mountaineers the most. Like in football, the largest crowds in Ramsey are for ASU games. It's the rivalry that Catamount fans love to hate.

Which two SoCon coaches are most on the hot seat?

Appalachian State- The first answer by far is Jason Capel. Last year of a contract and with a conference move ahead, it doesn't look good. Second by a long way is probably Larry Hunter by default. Don't know his contract situation, but he's a tenured SoCon coach who seems to be one 20-loss season away from a pink slip. If he doesn't produce with Trey Sumler in his senior year, I can see the Cats making a move.

Chattanooga- It is almost too obvious to say Jason Capel. For the record, that is why this question asked for two coaches. Capel was the obvious choice. My second choice is The Citadel’s Chuck Driesell. He just hasn’t done anything to indicate that there is any reason to believe that he can be the one to turn it around for the Bulldogs at this point.

Western Carolina- My guesses would be ASU's Jason Capel and The Citadel's Chuck Driesell. Capel in his 4th season at ASU is 3-8 on the season, without a DI win this season, and Driesell is 4-9 this season, after going only 8-22 in 2012-13. Both teams have dim prospects for improved seasons over last year.

What should your team have for a New Year’s Resolution?

Appalachian State- Get Jay Canty back on the court. He won't be the fix-all, but with the pieces currently in place, he could help out a lot. He can alleviate pressure off the guards and free up Obacha and Baskins so they don't have to do more than they can.

Chattanooga- Play better defense. Somehow. Someway. If they can play better defensively, there are a lot of wins out there for the taking in the SoCon.

Western Carolina- Since I'm sure we lead the conference in fouls, the New Year's resolution should be "To reduce personal fouls, and improve scoring consistency."

Dr Pepper Classic Championship Game Preview: Maine- Playing For Championships

This is the preview I hoped I wouldn't have to write. I was really hoping the Mocs would not see Maine in this tournament. All the way up until sometime around 4:30 Eastern on Sunday afternoon, I was hoping to see Middle Tennessee in the Championship Game.

Then, suddenly, the Maine Black Bears couldn't miss a shot and made 14 of 22 from three point range and stunned Middle Tennessee 89-85 in overtime. That was when I decided that, yes, I did want to write a preview of a Maine-Chattanooga game after all.

It was unexpected to see Maine pull off that shocking upset. They were significant underdogs (given only an 8% chance of winning on Pomeroy's site and ranked 345th out of 351 teams). But they did it. Now, they get a chance to do it again against the homestanding Mocs.

Maine, which shot 31.2% from three point range heading into Sunday, will look to stay hot from long distance. Dimitry Akanda-Coronel made 5 of 8 from three point range and scored 27 points against Middle Tennessee. He was shooting 26.8% from three point range heading into the game and averaging 13.7 points per game. He had been in single digits in scoring for the five games previous to this one. Does he stay hot on Monday night?

Zarko Valjarevic made 4 of 6 from three point range on Sunday against Middle Tennessee. He, at least, is a 45% shooter from three point range on the season. He's averaging 13.4 points per game. So he is a dangerous shooter that could go off against the Mocs on Monday night.

Xavier Pollard, the Black Bears leading scorer and rebounder, sat out on Sunday afternoon. He will probably be out against the Mocs as well. He is their best player when he plays.

The Black Bears have a few tall players on their team, but they do not play a ton of minutes. Christian Ejiga is 6-8 and started on Sunday, but played just 18 minutes. Shaun Lawton is 6-5, and is averaging 4.7 assists per game and 3.2 rebounds per game, to go along with ten points per game.

This is not a big team, but they are big enough to give the Mocs problems. They are a team that generally scores more shooting twos than threes, but put home a ton of threes on Sunday. The Mocs do not match up quite as well against this team as they did against Grand Canyon. They are a more likely team to drive into the lane. Do the Antelopes stay hot from long range? If not, do they keep on shooting from long range because of their hot streak on Sunday?


The Mocs will need Z Mason, Lance Stokes and Casey Jones to bring their A game. If they do, the Mocs should be able to win the battle in the paint, which will make it much less important for the Mocs to shoot well from long range. I expect Maine to score some points, but not be able to stop the Mocs offensively. The Black Bears rank 341st in both OR% and DR%, which means the Mocs should be able to win on the boards. They also let teams score at will inside the paint. That just looks like a good match-up for these Mocs offensively. Defensively, this could be ugly, but the Mocs will win a shootout. Mocs 81, Maine 76.

Mocs 69, Grand Canyon 64

The Mocs jumped out to a thirteen point lead against Grand Canyon on Sunday night, getting ahead 25-12. The defense looked the best they had looked all year. The offense looked a little bit better early on.

Then, the Mocs went into one of their patented slumps. They went five minutes without scoring a point, and suddenly they found themselves in a dog fight.

In the end, the Mocs found a way to hold on and to win the game and there is nothing to complain about that. They played some zone out of Chaos for much of the game. The Antelopes did not have a lot of ability to drive the ball towards the basket with their guards, and the Mocs defense magically looked a lot better. The Antelopes shot 36.4% from the floor for the night. This is the sort of team that the Mocs are going to be able to contain on the defensive side of the floor.

Rico White looked more like himself tonight. He scored 11 points. His injury has been plaguing him for sure, and finally he looked more like himself tonight. That is very important to this team. If Rico can contribute like that, then this team will be much better in 2014 than they were in 2013. He scored 11 points.

Lance Stokes did not start, and scored ten points. Stokes is long and continues to show some effectiveness and effort. Gee McGhee scored just one point on a free throw. He is in an epic shooting slump right now. He will probably eventually get going again during SoCon play. He needs to.

Martynas Bareika made two threes on four shots. He needs to continue shooting the ball well.

Of course, nothing would be complete without mentioning Z Mason. Mason scored sixteen points with eleven rebounds and four blocks. Having Mason back made a huge difference. He can play offensively and defensively. Listening to him on the postgame show made it sound like his foot is not particularly bothering him. He needs to take it easy, but the Mocs really need him to play well to win consistently.

So the Mocs collected their second D1 win of the year and are 5-8 overall now. They will battle Maine (the shocking winner in game one of the Dr Pepper Classic over Middle Tennessee in overtime) in the Championship Game tomorrow night and have a chance to get to 6-8 overall and collect a second straight D1 win heading into SoCon play. That would be very good for the Mocs as they could carry momentum into SoCon play. This has traditionally been the time when they start building up momentum for SoCon play and this is another opportunity to do it. They are playing in the Championship Game for the 23rd time in 24 years, and will be trying to win their sixteenth in 24 years on Monday night. Should be a great night.


Four Factors: Grand Canyon

Antelopes- 40.9%
Mocs- 42.9%
Advantage- Mocs

Antelopes- 18.8%
Mocs- 14.0%
Advantage- Mocs

Antelopes- 36.8%
Mocs- 39.5%
Advantage- Mocs

Antelopes- 41.8%
Mocs- 31.8%
Advantage- Antelopes

Antelopes- 20.0%
Mocs- 21.1%
Advantage- Mocs

Antelopes- 5
Mocs- 7
Advantage- Mocs

Possessions: 64

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Dr Pepper Classic- Grand Canyon Preview: Opportunities

I believe Middle Tennessee will beat Maine about 84-63 in the opening game of the Dr Pepper Classic. I think it is worth seeing, because the Blue Raiders are a good team, a team that received an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament a year ago. So everyone should take the opportunity to go see them.

The Mocs have competed in 23 Dr Pepper Classics in Chattanooga, and have won 15 of them. That's a pretty good mark. They have played in 22 Dr Pepper Classic Championship Games, and beat Utah Valley each of the past two years in the title game. Now, Grand Canyon (a current member of the WAC with Utah Valley) takes their shot at the Mocs.

Z Mason is listed as day-to-day. He'll be a gametime decision. The Mocs need him, and the Mocs need him now. He is their best guy in the paint, obviously. Without him, they lack a true identity. With him, they have their go to guy in the paint and one of their best defensive players. Is this a key game for the Mocs? Traditionally, this is when the Mocs season begins to take shape. The SoCon season starts in less than a week. The Dr Pepper Classic is the last chance to get into shape to play before the SoCon season opens. It would be nice for Mason to have a couple of games under his belt prior to SoCon play beginning. But if he's not healthy, it is much more important that he be playing at full strength for the SoCon play. So we'll see. I'll trust all the coaches and Mason himself 100% on this.

Demetrius Walker is a transfer from New Mexico and was suspended on Friday along with Jeff Lowery. He leads the team in scoring with 16.9 points per game, averages 5.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Walker is only shooting 29.4% from three point range, and takes quite a few of them. But he is a scorer, and missing him will hurt them considerably.

The Mocs biggest challenge with or without Mason will be finding a way to contain Killian Larson, the 6-9, 268 pound senior. He is averaging 14.7 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. His 52.3% shooting from the floor will post a gigantic challenge to the Mocs inside. He does not block a lot of shots, so he is not a game changer there, but he is aggressive on the boards, and that will present yet another challenge to the Mocs.

Daniel Alexander just recently became eligible after transferring from Texas A&M. He has made an instant impact. In just three games, he is second on the team in scoring at 15.7 points, second on the team in rebounds with 5.7, and first on the team in assists with 2.7 per game. He has made 57.9% of his three point shots in those three games. That's impressive. He takes mostly three pointers, but is such a good shooter, he has made the Antelopes a much tougher team.

Jerome Garrison is also averaging 11.9 points per game. Akachi Okugo is second on the team in assists with 2.5 per game.

Grand Canyon is a decent defensive rebounding team, but not a particularly good offensive rebounding team. They are 87th in the country in defensive rebounding and 285th in offensive rebounding. The Antelopes score 32.7% of their points from three point range, the 49th highest in the country. They only score 42.1% of their points from two point range, which is 340th nationally. That tells you all you need to know about how this team is going to try to score- by lighting it up from three point range. With Alexander, they have the horses to do it. Blake Davis is also shooting 42% from three point range, and a real threat from deep.

This is interesting, because the Mocs give up 63.5% of their points from two point range, which is the second highest total in the country, while allowing opponents to score just 17.5% of their points from three point range, which is 347th in the country. The Mocs do a terrible job of covering the paint at this point. Larson could do some serious damage to them, if the Antelopes feed him the ball and don't settle for threes. This team does not have a lot of driving guards, which is the Mocs biggest weakness-guards that drive the ball. Walker was the best at driving the ball to the hoop. That should play well to the Mocs advantage.

It would be nice to see Gee McGhee knock down a couple of long shots, and for Casey Jones to continue to show his development. Will the Mocs play the Chaos Zone, which worked reasonably well against UAB? We'll have to wait and see.


The Mocs defense actually should match up reasonably well against the Antelopes, provided that Mason plays and someone can contain Larson. This is a scary game for the Mocs, because so many people have had their game against Middle Tennessee circled for a while. A loss here probably means that game won't even happen. That could be disastrous. But the Mocs at home should probably win this one, especially if Mason plays. It should be a very competitive game, though, and come down to the final buzzer. Mocs 79, Antelopes 75.

SoCon Monster Game of the Week: UNCG at Virginia Tech

UNCG has been one of the most up and down teams in the SoCon this year. They beat High Point, but lose to Presbyterian. Last week, the Spartans beat down James Madison and then lost a close battle to Wake Forest. Which raised the question- could the Spartans possibly get an ACC win over the Hokies of Virginia Tech?

The Hokies have lost to USC-Upstate, Michigan State, Seton Hall, and were demolished by VCU their last time out. They have already beaten Western Carolina and Furman from the SoCon this year. They will be looking to get to 3-0 against SoCon competition in this game.

The Hokies rely heavily on their lone senior starter, Jarrell Eddie. Eddie leads the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 18.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest. He is 6-7 and the team's best three point shooter. He shoots 49.4% from three, having made 39 already this year. He is also third on the team in assists, with 1.5 per contest.

There are four Hokies averaging in double figures in scoring. Ben Emelgou is averaging 13.6 points per game, Adam Smith 13.1 points, and CJ Barksdale 10.1 points. Barksdale is also averaging 5.1 rebounds per game. Devin Wilson leads the team in assists with 5.4 per game. He is also averaging 3.4 turnovers per game.

The Hokies are the second best three point shooting team in the country, at 44%. They are 15th in the country in the percentage of their points coming from three point range. This is not a team that forces turnovers, but they play very good defense. They are not a big team, but they are more than big enough to compete with a SoCon school.

Talking about a contrast in styles, the Spartans are not a great three point shooting team. Nicholas Paulos is shooting 35.7% from three point range, having made 35 threes on the year and Jordan Potts has made 18 of 29 from three point range. No one else is really a threat to make a three.

The Spartans rely on Kyle Cain, Tevon Saddler and Kayel Locke. Cain is averaging 16.0 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game. He is shootng 52.4% from the floor. Locke is averaging 11.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. He is shooting 46.2% from the floor. Tevon Saddler is averaging 11.8 points per game, 4 rebounds per game, and 3.5 assists per game. Cain and Locke will need to dominate inside against Virginia Tech and hope that Saddler can do his thing for them to have a shot. A few knocked down threes by Potts and Paulos wouldn't hurt anything.


The Hokies clearly have more talent, but the Spartans have been seeming to build to this to some extent. They seem prepared to take down a team like Virginia Tech. I think the Hokies are pretty good, but the Spartans are more than capable of beating this team. However, more than likely, the Spartans will start slow and dig too big of a hole to dig out of. The Spartans will make a furious second half rally to keep it respectable, but just too much deep shooting for the Hokies to pull this off. Virgnia Tech 78, UNCG 72.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Daily Dribbles- 12/27/13

--Noticed something surprising as I was looking at stuff last week, and forgot to mention it until now.
 Only one coach currently in the SoCon has a winning overall record- Davidson's  Bob McKillop. Only four have a winning record in SoCon play. McKillop is one. Name the other three. (ANSWER BELOW).

--Sunday will be an interesting day for SoCon days too. Can The Citadel upset College of Charleston? What about Davidson's visit to Wichita State? The Mocs host Grand Canyon in the Dr Pepper Classic. That should make for a very intriguing day for the SoCon.

--Trivia answer: Mike Young from Wofford is 98-95 in SoCon play. That one shouldn't really surprise anyone. Anyone that could remember last year should have come up with Bennie Seltzer from Samford at 9-9. But here's a surprising one- Jason Capel from Appalachian State is 27-27, which is a shocking considering how many Mountaineer fans want him fired. It's not always the record, but lots of other factors.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Leaving The SoCon: An Outsiders (or is it Insiders) Look

I'm rarely a fan of change. I like status quo. I stick by coaches longer than most other fans, because I am afraid of whether you will get something better or worse with the change. I'm nervous about changing quarterbacks in football, because you don't know that what you're getting will be better.

So, suffice it to say, I don't really like all these teams leaving the SoCon. The four teams leaving at the end of the year make me upset. Let me very briefly discuss my feelings on each of the four teams leaving.

Appalachian State

I will miss the Mountaineers to some extent. They are a good program- particularly the baseball and football programs. The men's basketball program has been less than stellar in recent years, but they have had some solid performances prior to the Capel years. The Mountaineers are a good program, with name recognition. This was important to the SoCon. They got most of that from their football win over Michigan, but it still helps even in basketball. Level that I will miss them on a scale of 1-10: 7.


I'll really miss Davidson. I know most people really dislike Davidson because of their dominance in the SoCon. While they have found a perfect fit in the Atlantic 10 (a conference with no emphasis on football and one of the top basketball mid-major conferences in the country), they may struggle for a few years there. That being said, I'll miss the Wildcats. They keep the conference in the news, in general. They also care about basketball a lot. Since I care about basketball a lot, I like that. Level that I will miss them on a scale of 1-10: 10.


The Phoenix have never won a SoCon Tournament, and have not been members for that long. They play in a very small gym, that many peopl compare to a can of sardines. Yes, it's safe to say that I will not miss Elon much at all. Yes, their overall athletic program seems to be a bit on the upswing. Yes, it certainly seems that their men's basketball program is on the upswing. But that doesn't matter. They have brought no real exposure to the conference while they've been here, they haven't won in basketball while they've been in, and now they're leaving. Hey- with them gone, it's almost like it's the mid-90s again. Yawn. Level that I will miss then on a scale of 1-10: 1.

Georgia Southern

The Eagles are another traditional SoCon program- at least in my mind. They have brought some national exposure with their football program (though not as much as Appalachian State, because the Mountaineers upset Michigan who was ranked #4, and Georgia Southern only upset Florida who had only four wins), and have had their moments in basketball where they were pretty good, even if winning a SoCon Tournament always has seemed just out of their grasp. Will I miss them? Sure I will. They seem to be on the uptick again in basketball, and that's always nice. Level that I will mis them on a scale of 1-10: 7.

Yes, I was probably just too harsh to Elon. I just didn't think they brought a ton to the conference to begin with, they weren't here long, and now they're leaving. Oh well. The other three have been in the conference long enough that I will miss them when they are gone. I'm not sure what it all means. I'll enjoy having ETSU back in the SoCon, having VMI back will be fine, and Mercer I will enjoy having in the conference. But it won't be the same. And while change isn't always bad, I never enjoy it before it starts.

Daily Dribbles- 12/26/13

--In case you missed it (and you may have since it was posted on Christmas), a look at Appalachian decision to leave the SoCon.

--Appalachian State is asking for 25 things to have a good Christmas.

--As good of a time as any to check in on the College of Charleston Cougars. All they want for Christmas is SOME OFFENSIVE EXECUTION!!!! Something most of us can relate to.

--Can the SoCon continue their respectable week from a week ago? I'm not sure. Saturday is a key day in that regard. Samford goes to Marquette and Furman goes to California in games that the SoCon team will be big underdogs. How does UNCG do against Virginia Tech? Maybe more importantly, how does Georgia Southern do against North Carolina A&T? All of these are road games. Longwood and Wright State are the only teams North Carolina A&T have beaten this year that is a D1 team? This is only their third home game of the year.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Ghosts of SoCon Past: Appalachian State

With four teams leaving the SoCon at the end of the sesaon, people have analyzed an re-analyzed how good it is for each team to be leaving. Tonight, Appalachian State's decision is analyzed by their Scanning the SoCon blogger.

1) Do you think your team is making a good move (in general) leaving the conference?

When ECU asked App State to join FBS when the D1 split happened in 1978, they should have went back then.

I believe that when it comes to football, App State has maximized the revenue they can receive. This is a football move. There is no debate about that. Georgia Southern has made it a point of saying their goal is to be a nationally-recognize research institute (i.e. they want to subsidize their payroll through research money and not student fees).  With Chancellor Peacock retiring at the end of this season, it'll be up to the new Chancellor to determine that course.

One area that I think will help is that more App fans will have to travel up the mountain to see their team play conference games. There won't be many convenient games in the Upstate or the Triad for some fans to go to. You want to see App State, you come to Boone. Yes I can see App scheduling WCU, Davidson and UNCG in non-conference games, but they won't have the impact they currently do. Also, I think it makes App a more viable non-conference option so scheduling will get easier.
Football is already proving that.

2) How do you think your athletic department will fare in the long run?
It all depends on the success of the football program. Right now, football operates at a financial gain and while it doesn't cover the entire department, it helps. I've though for years that more revenue
should be put in the basketball program for marketing and scheduling which would be a risk, but has a lot of upside. Plus it creates two sources of revenue for the program instead of relying on just one.

Obviously the budget will increase replacing minimal plane trips with multiple plane trips, but the TV and sponsorship money could offset that.

It all depends if one of the two money sports (men's baksetball or football) can become not just a winning program, but a strong winning program. Then you can maximize ticket revenue, bring in hot
non-conference games and finances would take care of themselves.

3) How do you think your men's basketball team will fare in the short run?

First of all, barring a SoCon title Capel is all but gone. The good news is that the Sun Belt has rules against terrible non-conference scheduling such as only one sub-D1 team allowed (two this year due to only having 14 conference games) and standards when it comes to scheduling guarantee games. Also, I like the tournament format in that only the top eight go to New Orleans and then the top two get a double bye like the West Coast Conference Tournament.

It would be up to AD Charlie Cobb to make a worthy hire and despite Capel's failures, Cobb has a good track record in hiring. He's not going to go cheap on the next hire. They will make at least 200k and he'll have a good pool of candidates to consider.

In reality, it's all up in the air.

4) How is your athletic department preparing for the move?

Right now men's scholarships in Olympic sports are being cut for the short term Title IX implications (which aren't as dire as Georgia Southern due to their M/F ratio). There are plans to add either
women's swimming and diving or women's lacrosse to offset the scholarships in the long term and hopefully restore men's scholarships.

Obviously the budget will increase replacing minimal plane trips with multiple plane trips. The predicted amount of overall budget increase is between $4-6 million. Areas that do help are the CFB Playoff Group of Five revenue sharing which will amount to $1 million a year for App State, Sun Belt TV revenue in the seven figures per school, increase in corporate sponsorships due to increased visibility and then NCAA Tourney units (which the departing schools forfeited).


Daily Dribbles- 12/25/13

--Let me begin by wishing all of my readers Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays. Hope you and yours are truly enjoying this time of year. Thank you for all the  joy that you all bring me by reading this blog.

--Here's a VMI Update from MocsMania.

--Curious about the Mocs Dr Pepper Classic opponents? Here's a look at Maine, Grand Canyon, and Middle Tennessee.

--Look for some extra stuff covering the SoCon during conference play. I'll have quick previews and predictions on every SoCon game, along with recaps, and extra articles on the importance of each game. Be sure to look for it.

--Now get off here and go enjoy Christmas....

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Scanning the Future SoCon: VMI Update- Consistent Effort Despite Inconsistent Results Provides Promise For Conference Play

The Virginia Military Institute Keydets currently stand at 6-5 thus far in the 2013-2014 season. A consistent effort has characterized the squad thus far, while the results have been a bit inconsistent. A surprising blowout win against second-place pre-season Horizon League member Wright State was balanced with convincing road losses to William & Mary and Elon.  Despite the inconsistent results, there is hope for the Keydets as they approach conference play. VMI battled hard at Virginia Tech on Nov. 18. While the Keydets dropped a 13-point defeat at the hands of the Hokies. VMI had made a furious comeback and cut the Va Tech lead to 6 with over one minute in regulation. Similarly, the Keydets lost to East Carolina in Greenville, NC by 9 points. VMI had all the momentum at the end of that game as well. By far the best result this year, was a 94-74 win over Wright State in Lexington, VA on Dec 7. In that game, VMI shot 17-31 (54.8%) from 3pfg. All five starters scored in double figures led by freshman QJ Peterson with 21 points. DJ Covington added a double-double (14pts, 11 rbds), while Brian Brown knocked down five 3pfgs. VMI’s current record is in keeping with the anticipated results thus far. Freshman are getting valuable playing time against larger NCAA programs and the efforts against Wright State, Va Tech, and East Carolina portend good things in the smaller Big South. However, VMI continues to shoot the ball poorly overall and they continue to struggle against efficient offenses (such as Elon, who shot 57%, while attempting 23 more FT’s).    

VMI’s offense has become somewhat of a three-headed attack. QJ Peterson has been the surprising MVP thus far as he is averaging 20.8 ppg. He also leads the team in steals and is second in assists. However, Peterson needs to improve his efficiency (43% fgs and more turnovers than assists). Senior Rodney Glasgow is having a great final season and could challenge for POY in the conference. Glasgow is averaging 17.5 ppg and 4.9 apg. His turnover to assist ratio is just under 4:1. DJ Covington, in addition to the entire VMI team, has gotten into early foul trouble thus far which has limited his minutes to 26 per game. Even with the reduced time on the court, Covington is averaging 15.8 ppg and 2.9 bpg. Jordan Weethee and Brian Brown have performed well at times, but must provide more consistent shooting, especially from behind the arc.

VMI is currently fourth in the NCAA in scoring offense, averaging 89 ppg. That number is inflated by three 100+ point games against non-DI competition. Nonetheless, VMI has scored the basketball, but will have shoot the ball better to challenge for the Big South title. VMI’s shooting woes can be attributed to five tough road games against legitimate competition, as well as the minutes being logged by true freshman. It is likely that VMI will shoot the ball better in conference play, as they will get more time and space to attempt 3pfg’s over smaller and slower guards. VMI’s five road games are against Wake Forest, Va Tech, William & Mary, Elon, and East Carolina. Quite simply, VMI is better in front of the Corps of Cadets. VMI is 6-0 at home and 0-5 on the road. As the level of competition balances out in conference play, VMI’s 3pfg shooting should even out. It is obvious to state that VMI plays better when they knock down 3pfgs, however it means more to them than other schools because it allows them to set up the full court press and force turnovers.
The overall effort leads me to believe that VMI will be very competitive in the Big South. Prior to conference play, VMI will travel to Clemson, SC to take on the Clemson Tigers in Little John Coliseum.  The early portion of the Big South slate favors VMI with two home games against Longwood and Liberty. VMI will continue to have work on shooting the ball better and staying out of foul trouble. VMI has shot almost 50 less foul shots than their opponents. Some of that is due to the style of play, however that gap must close especially against more efficient teams with an inside presence. My assessment is the Duggar Baucom is happy with the effort and the growth of some of the freshman. VMI is on schedule for the glide slope of improvement that has been unmistakable in previous seasons. The Keydets must improve their 3 pt shooting if VMI will win earn their first trip to the NCAA tournament in over 35 years.

Daily Dribbles- 12/24/13

--Wow! Is it really Chrismas Eve already?

--Only seven out of eleven SoCon teams are playing this week, and none of them play until Saturday. Chattanooga, The Citadel and Davidson play on Sunday. Samford, UNCG, Furman and Georgia Southern play on Saturday. That means that Wofford, Western Carolina, Appalachian State and Elon all do not play this week.

--UNCG and Virginia Tech are playing the SoCon Game of the Week on Saturday at noon on ESPN3. It should be an interesting game. The Spartans can win this game if they play well.

--College of Charleston and The Citadel hook up on Sunday in a battle of Charleston. The Cougars are the heavy favorite. The Bulldogs are hoping to pull off a big upset.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Scanning the SoCon- Week Eight: The Questions

Yesterday, the Scanning the SoCon crew looked at midseason awards. Today, they answer the questions looking backwards at the best and worst of the season so far, and look ahead to the teams that will improve the most and play in the championship game in March.

Why did you vote the way you did for Player of the Year?

Appalachian State- Croone's constantly been at the top of Player of the Week voting and looking at the stats, he is carrying Furman to a respectable showing so far this year.

Chattanooga- I’ll go with Stephen Croone from Furman. Every time I have watched Croone play, I have been impressed with how well he is getting into the lane. He is the leader in scoring for the SoCon at 21.2 points per game, and is second in the conference in steals with 2.1. With his driving ability, it is important that he shoot free throws well and he is, at 78.9%. Croone is also tenth in the league in assists. The thing that scared me away from voting for him (even though I did) is that I have not been overly impressed with Furman.

Davidson- I voted for Troutman as POY. Elon was a popular pick to win the league and Troutman leads them in scoring in rebounding. He's scoring 16.2/game (2nd in the conference), getting 5.4 rebounds/game (11th), and is second in both FG% and blocked shots. The Southern is a terrible league for big guys. Troutman will post great numbers in league games.

Elon- Western Carolina’s Trey Sumler deserves Player of the Year honors through the first eight weeks of the season because he leads the Southern Conference in assists per game (4.4) and is fifth in scoring (18.1). Sumler is also third in the league in free throw percentage (83.9) and, most importantly, he has led the Catamounts to a respectable 6-8 start to the season. Sumler gives the Catamounts a realistic chance to win the Southern Conference tournament.

Furman- Mason ranks in top five in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage.

Georgia Southern- I felt there are 4 candidates for player of the year right now. Z Mason, Stephen Croone, Jelani Hewitt, and Trey Sumler. Obviously all 4 are great scorers as they are in the top 5 in scoring in the SoCon, but that's not all they can do. Sumler leads the league in assists with Croone and Hewitt also in the top15, Hewitt leads the league in steals with Croone second and Sumler 14th, and Mason leads the league in blocks. But for right now I feel that Mason would deserve the player of the year award. He's 3rd in scoring, 3rd in rebounding, and 1st in blocked shots. And what sets him apart from the other guys is that he's playing on average about 10 minutes less a game than those other 3 candidates.

Samford- Z Mason or Lucas Troutman. Mason because he's been his typical productive self even in the midst of changing systems. Troutman because he's been the glue that held Elon together (even with his broken nose) while the rest of the roster gets healthy. I've been in the tank for Troutman for a while now. He's very productive.

The Citadel- I'm not voting for any player of the year, coach of the year, or freshman of the year at this time, because no player/coach deserves such consideration in the league at this time. The league hasn't had any standout performance, which may explain why the league isn't very good.

UNCG- I really had a tough time picking the Player of the Year at this point. I thought Troutman, Croone, Cain, Mason and Sumler all have a case to be picked at this point. Since the best player for Daidson hasn't been available for the last few weeks, I decided to go with Troutman instead. But I think there are many other candidates and I think De'Mon Brooks will be involved in the conversation by the end.

Western Carolina- At this point, I'm strongly looking at Z. Mason of Chattanooga. Certainly the Mocs leader on the floor. He's currently third in scoring, third in rebounding and first in blocked shots. I'd like to have Trey Sumler in that spot, however I just havn't seen the offensive consistency up to this point.

Which team has been the most pleasant surprise?

Appalachian State- Georgia Southern. Going from lifeless last season to full of life this one. Byington has tapped into the raw talent that team possesses with Hewitt, Bussey, Mathias and company. Everyone knew they had talent after they were the only SoCon team to beat (and dominate) Davidson last year. They had the near-hit at Miami and despite some bumps in the road, are improving their record gradually. They will be a tough out for any SoCon team.

Chattanooga- Hold on while I flip my coin between Georgia Southern and UNCG. I didn’t think either of them would be good, and they are both 6-7 now. Right before the season began, I started being a bit of a UNCG believer, which makes me think that Georgia Southern has the slight edge in this category. They have lost two overtime games to Miami and Campbell, while losing to Oral Roberts by two. If they had won two of those three games, suddenly they would be 8-5, which would have them with the best record in the SoCon at this point. Never saw that coming. Jelani Hewitt should be on a short list for Player of the Year.

Davidson- Georgia Southern. I expected Byington to do well at GSU. I didn't expect him to do this well this soon. Jelani Hewitt is playing some excellent ball right now. GSU looks like a team that can make some noise in a few years.

Elon- I would say Furman has been the pleasant surprise of the Southern Conference this season. I read an ESPN Insider article that ranked the Paladins 347th out of 351 Division I teams. Furman is clearly better than that egregious ranking. A 5-6 start to the year is something to build on for a Furman club selected to finish 10th in the Southern Conference in the preseason poll.

Furman- Furman has already won five games under new head coach Niko Medved, while only winning seven all of last season, including just six in regular season.

Georgia Southern- For me it's definitely been Georgia Southern. This team was picked to finish 9th in the SoCon but I don't think (barring injury) this team will be a bottom feeder in the SoCon. Coach Byington is using a completely different style than his predecessor and it's been refreshing to see.

Samford- None, but I guess GaSou would get the vote by exceeding their low expectations.

The Citadel- No team has been a pleasant surprise.

UNCG- I'm going to be biased here and pick my own UNCG Spartans as the biggest surprise. This team is so young and lost almost every single contributor. Yet they sit at 6-7 at this point with 3 wins versus D1 opponents. I really had low expectations for this team in the preseason and they have so far been a bit on the surprising side for me.

Western Carolina- Sorry, but I don't think ANY SoCon teams have played surprisingly well, all have been surprisingly bad.

Which team has been the biggest disappointment?

Appalachian State-  App State, easy. With the suspension of Canty (who should be back any game now), the team has regressed from a squad that took Davidson to the limit last March in Asheville. No D1 wins, a fanbase that is openly discussing new coaches , embarrassing performances against the likes of Charlotte and Cincy plus bad losses to Campbell, Presbyterian and Winthrop has fans wanting Capel out now. Not in March, NOW!

Chattanooga- I’m going with Samford. They have been awful. They beat Austin Peay and Jacksonsville, so may be turning it around. But for a team that was a darkhorse in the preseason, and I could see joining Elon, Western Carolina and Davidson as the clear favorites, they are nowhere near there at this point, looking more like they deserve to be one of the mess of teams competing for the last two byes, and maybe being an underdog in that match-up.

Davidson-  Appalachian State. Coach on the hot seat. Still looking for a D1 win. Pathetic.

Elon- Appalachian State is the biggest disappointment to date because they have yet to win a game against a Division I opponent all season.

Furman- Appalachian State- After returning three starters (four with Canty) from a team that finished second in the North Division and came the closest to beating mighty Davidson, the Mountaineers have only three wins and have yet to defeat a Division I foe.

Georgia Southern- So far I'd say it's Samford. I felt that they had the balance needed to be a very good team this year and so far that hasn't happened.

Samford- Can we give it to the entire league? There have been injuries, suspensions, and other extenuating circumstances, but man the league is not very good so far.

The Citadel- Appalachian State has actually been worse than anticipated.

UNCG- Easily, the most disappointing team for me is Samford. I thought with Rajon Kelly and Tim Williams that this team could be one of the top 3 teams in the conference. At this point, it's hard not to put them in the bottom 3 in the conference ranking. Luckily for the Bulldogs, the real basketball season doesn't start until January. Wins at that point, will eliminate all of the disappointment from the out of conference portion of their schedule.

Western Carolina- Western Carolina - Inconsistent play in both offense and defense from a team loaded with senior experience, leadership, and talent.

Outside of Davidson, Elon and Western Carolina, who is most likely to improve the most between now and March?

Appalachian State- By where they are now you have to go with App State. The SoCon is a bad basketball league. App State has a good bit of talent. The Mountaineers will win games and contend for a first-round bye. The same type of thing happened last year. Mike Neal was out early due to grades, many people voted them the worst team in the SoCon through December and then they got better through January and hit their groove late February into March.

Chattanooga- I’ll go with Samford here too. They have more talent than any of the rest of the schools. I also think Chattanooga and Appalachian State have a chance to improve. Appalachian State will be getting Jay Canty back (we think). Chattanooga, if they have a fully healthy Z Mason, should be getting more into rhythm with Will Wade’s new system and should be figuring it out during the second half of the season.

Davidson- Wofford. Excellent coaching staff. Some very talented players. I don't think that they can finish in the top 3, but they are capable of winning any game in the conference season.

Elon- Outside of Davidson, Elon and Western Carolina, I’d say UNC Greensboro has the best chance to improve between now and March. The Spartans showed in their narrow loss to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (10-2) on Saturday that they can compete with just about any team in the country.

Furman- Appalachian State--When and if the Mountaineers get Jay Canty back, they should be a team to be reckoned with.

Georgia Southern- I'm going to go with my most disappointing team here in Samford. Their individual pieces are better than the sum of the parts has been and I could see the Bulldogs improving between now and March to the point that they are legit conference title contenders.

Samford- Wofford. They're currently 3-7, but their talent is not that bad (and mostly young). Mike Young is a competent coach who has proven he can win in this league. If the rest of the SoCon continues to look less than impressive, the Wofford Terriers are going to run game on the bottom feeders. Furman has an outside shot once they get Reddick and Early healthy.

The Citadel- Samford is my first choice for improvement, because I think it is playing below its talent level right now but has the horses to keep up with the three mentioned teams . My second choice in this category is actually The Citadel, which is also playing below its talent level, but has the capability of moving past a bunch of the lower-echelon squads.

UNCG- I think outside of those three teams, the best coach left is Mike Young at Wofford. So, I will pick the Terriers as the most likely to improve.

Western Carolina- UNCG. The Spartans seem to be improving weekly, I think it will continue as the team jells, I believe they have the most potential of the remaining teams.

If you had to pick right now, which two teams do you think would make the SoCon Championship Game and who would win?

Appalachian State- Just by the coaches, personnel and game management, you have to pick the two best teams in Davidson and Elon. However March is  a long time away and there's so many questions about the other teams, Will App State get it going once Canty returns? Will Chaos work in the SoCon? Will Byington get GSU some swagger? Does Samford ride Tim Williams to the promise land? Can Croone shoot the Paladins into contention? Will Bussey lead Western to glory? Can the Gee's raw talent turn into results? Does Wofford sneak in? Will El Citadel finally make a run? If Davidson and Elon slip up, there's a muddied second tier that can make Asheville a gambler's nightmare.

Chattanooga- This feels like a year that Davidson gets upset early in Asheville. I’m going to say that Davidson loses in an upset in the semis. Since I think they will win the regular season title and Elon will play Western Carolina in the other semi, which I think Western Carolina will win behind all of their seniors. I’m going to guess that Davidson loses to Samford, a team with Tim Williams inside, which will give them trouble. Western Carolina then beats Samford in the championship game. Am I overthinking this? Probably. In reality, it’s probably Davidson crushing whatever foe they face in the championship game.

Davidson- I'd pick Davidson and Elon to make the finals and Davidson to win. Davidson doesn't have many wins right now, but they've incorporated 3 freshmen and a transfer into the rotation. They've had injuries to Brooks, Czerapowicz, Droney, Gibbs, and Belford. If they get fully healthy, I think that this is the best roster in the conference. And they are back-to-back defending champions with an excellent coaching staff.

Elon- I will stick with my preseason pick and say that Elon and Davidson meet in the Southern Conference championship game. Elon writhed out of their gates but overall they have played the best of any team in the conference. Davidson has had their share of struggles, but showed their potential in a hard-fought overtime loss at the University of North Carolina. I still like Elon to win their first ever Southern Conference championship because of their continuity among the starting lineup.

Furman- Davidson and Western Carolina...Davidson would win because they are continuing to get better, and now with Brooks back fully healthy and having played four ranked foes by the time they enter SoCon play, it will prepare the Wildcats to make a third-straight title run.

Georgia Southern- Right now I think it would be Western Carolina and Davidson. I think Davidson is a team that will continue to improve and their preseason schedule will more than have them ready for SoCon play. Western is an athletic team and has a senior leader in Sumler and he's the type of player that can take over a weekend in March and have his team dancing. But in the end I think Davidson would cut down the nets and represent the SoCon in the NCAA tournament.

Samford- Elon and TBD. Before the season, I had Elon pegged as the best team in the league. No one has done anything to make me change my opinion in that regard. I'm still not sure who the second-best team is though. Elon likely will rep the SoCon during the NCAA Tournament before leaving for the CAA, but at this rate, they will do so as a 15-16 seed.

The Citadel- I suppose Elon-Davidson. I would still take Davidson...marginally.

UNCG- Kind of tough not to go with the 2 teams that I think are the best in the league at this point. So, I'll pick Davidson & Western Carolina. However, I think this league is as close as it has been in a long time from top to bottom.

Western Carolina- The same two that have been #1 and #2 all season, Davidson and Elon. The only two teams that can win out of conference, D1 games.