Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Close Games Define The SoCon

The SoCon is a league of close games at this point. Yes, there are plenty of mediocre (or worse) basketball teams out there in the SoCon. However, it is hard to find much better conference games.

The SoCon has played nine games determined by one score or in overtime. That is good for the third best percentage of any conference in America. That is tremendous.

When you turn on a SoCon game, you have had a 32.1% chance of turning on a truly great basketball game. Who would want anything more from a conference? When you buy a ticket or pay to watch the SoCon game on the internet, you are betting that there will be a pretty close game.

What does that mean for the long run of the SoCon Tournament? Plenty. Asheville should be unbelievable. There are no truly great teams in the SoCon this year, it does not appear. Chattanooga is unbeaten in SoCon play, but is clearly beatable and has little margin for error. Davidson just lost a home game to Elon last week. Elon got smoked by Western Carolina a few weeks back. The Catamounts were beaten down by Wofford on Monday. Wofford has already lost twice to Chattanooga. Georgia Southern and UNCG have looked flaky. At the bottom of the league, Georgia Southern, Furman and The Citadel have all been competitive repeatedly in SoCon games.

The SoCon Tournament will have plenty of games coming down to the final possession right from the first day. I don't think that it is a guarantee that the 6 vs. 11 game is some kind of blowout, because all of these teams are able to stay in games.

In the mean time, we'll all get treated to solid games. Ironically, the last six SoCon games have all been decided by more than one possession. All the games on Saturday and Monday night's game were not as close. That means that prior to Saturday 40.9% of the conference games had been decided by one score or in overtime. That is unreal.

So what are we really in for? I think we're in for a really exciting week of games to make up for the lack of excitement over last weekend. Have you looked at Thursday's games? It should be one of the best days of the whole year in the SoCon. Look out for a bunch of close games on Thursday.

The SoCon is not defined by great teams. But they are defined by great games. And that may be almost as good.

Team to Watch This Week- Chattanooga

It's hard to deny that the Mocs are the most interesting team this week considering both games they are playing. They are hosting the preseason favorite Elon and also UNCG this week. The Mocs are looking to prove that the 6-0 start in SoCon play is no fluke. How the Mocs do this week will determine if they are to be taken seriously or not. Two wins would establish them as a serious contender. One win would prove that they are good and we'll see where it goes from there. No wins would prove that the Mocs probably aren't quite ready for primetime.

Something You Did Not Know....But Should

It's time to continue looking at the scheduling situation around the SoCon. Every team is playing six teams twice and four teams once. So which teams have the easiest schedule? I think it's worth examining the SoCon record of the teams each school is playing once. That means that the better the record next to these schools, the easier their overall schedule based on results so far.

UNCG 5-17 (Furman, The Citadel, Samford, Wofford)
Elon 10-13 (The Citadel, Chattanooga, Furman, Wofford)
Samford 9-10 (Georgia Southern, UNCG, The Citadel, Davidson)
Appalachian State 10-11 (Davidson, Wofford, Furman, Georgia Southern)
Western Carolina 10-11 (Georgia Southern, Wofford, Davidson, Furman)
Chattanooga 9-9 (The Citadel, Elon, Davidson, Georgia Southern)
Davidson 12-9 (Appalachian State, Western Carolina, Chattanooga, Samford)
Georgia Southern 12-9 (Samford, Western Carolina, Appalachian State, Chattanooga)
Furman 11-8 (UNCG, Western Carolina, Elon, Appalachian State)
Wofford 11-8 (Western Carolina, Appalachian State,. Elon, UNCG)
The Citadel 13-7 (Chattanooga, Elon, UNCG, Samford)

That means that based on teams that they play just once and those teams SoCon record so far, UNCG has the toughest overall SoCon schedule and The Citadel has the easiest. That could spell trouble for the Spartans. Elon has the second toughest. That could mean something too. With The Citadel, they could win a few more games than they would otherwise because of the easiness of their overall SoCon schedule. But the most important of the easier (by a tiny bit) schedules are Davidson, Georgia Southern and Wofford. That means that Davidson has an edge on Elon in the championship race. It also means that Georgia Southern and Wofford have an edge on UNCG in the bye race. This still assumes that previous held beliefs still hold and that there are seven teams fighting for five bye spots (Chattanooga, Western Carolina, Davidson, Elon, UNCG, Wofford, and Georgia Southern).

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