On Saturday, the calendar will turn from January to February. It's a bit closer to spring, a little bit colder (normally), but also one month closer to March Madness.
In the college basketball world, March is all that matters. Some of the sports world doesn't even turn their attention to college basketball until March. There are other fans that start to pick up on what's going on in February, though, as they prepare to make their bracket (which will wind up losing to a woman with pink hair that thinks the ball is square).
After the Super Bowl ends on Sunday night is when much of the sports world starts paying attention to college basketball. Everything every team has done up until now has been to put themselves into a position to matter in February (when the best attendance will show up if the team is relevant). February is all about trying to get in a position to succeed in Marchby getting your team ready for tournament play.
It's no different in the SoCon. Yes, the SoCon is pretty clearly a one bid league at this point (and probably for the foreseeable future). But everything up until now has all been about getting yourself in a position to be playing truly meaningful games in February.
Davidson, Chattanooga and Western Carolina have put themselves in a position to be playing meaningful games in the month as they fight for a conference championship and the NIT bid that goes with it. Elon and Wofford are on the edges of that championship race, but are also battling for a bye, which is critical. UNCG, Georgia Southern, and even Samford and Appalachian State have put themselves in a position to battle for one of those bye spots in the SoCon Tournament. We all know how critical those spots can be. No SoCon team has won four games in four days.
So this month is absolutely critical for at least nine of the eleven SoCon teams as they fight for tournament seeding and prepare themselves for trying to win in Asheville in March.
It will be a fun month as we all prepare for what's ahead. This month matters. I know every month matters. But this one matters more than the rest. There's simply no way around it.
Team to Watch This Week- UNCG
If the Spartans want to get a bye in the SoCon Tournament, they desperately need to win both of these games. The Spartans have two home games against Appalachian State and Georgia Southern. Those are two tough games against two other teams fighting for a bye in the SoCon Tournament. The Spartans really need to get both of these games and stop their three game losing streak. This is a huge week to watch the Spartans.
Thing You May Not Know...But Probably Should
This is something that almost all of you probably do know, but it is something that I feel like is worth pointing out anyway. There are two layers to the byes this year. Yes, five teams are getting the SoCon bye. One of the benefits of a bye is that a team gets to play a team that has already had to play a game in your first game. Yes, that can lead to rust and that the team with the bye can not show up quite as well. Regardless, the best thing of a bye is to play a team that has already played.
That means that the four and five seed do not receive the full benefit of having a bye. Their first round game is against each other. That means that there is an advantage to getting into the top three in the SoCon standings. Getting into the top three seed is going to be very important in the SoCon Tournament.
Since no team has ever won four games in four days in the SoCon, getting a bye is critical for obvious reasons. Getting into the top three is also critical. So pay attention to the standings for getting a bye and getting into the top three.