Monday, March 3, 2014

Scanning the SoCon- Tournament Edition

Scanning the SoCon has fans and bloggers from every SoCon school. We gathered answers about the upcoming SoCon Tournament to help preview what will happen in Asheville.

Which team playing Friday do you think will go the furthest in the tournament?

Appalachian State- Georgia Southern. They should beat Furman and can match athleticism with Chattanooga. Plus they're on the non-Davidson side of the bracket.

Chattanooga- This is a tough one. I think UNCG could easily wind up upsetting Wofford on Saturday. I think Georgia Southern could easily wind up upsetting Chattanooga on Saturday. I think Samford could easily upset Davidson on Saturday. The question is, which one of those three teams is most likely to survive on Friday? I don’t think Appalachian State can beat Davidson, The Citadel can beat Wofford, or that Furman is likely to beat Chattanooga. I think that UNCG is the most likely team to win in round one and I think that they or Georgia Southern would be the most likely Round Two winners. So I guess I’ll go with the Spartans. Hesitantly. Kyle Cain, Kayel Locke and Tevon Saddler are good enough players. There is no telling what this team will do in Asheville. So unpredictable.      

Davidson- I think UNCG will edge The Citadel. Then they get a rematch with Wofford. Wofford should win that one, but UNCG will push them.

Elon- I don’t envision any of the six teams playing on Friday to make it past the quarterfinal round. If I had to pick one team, I would select UNC Greensboro, the No. 6 seed in the 2014 Southern Conference Tournament. The Spartans draw a favorable first-round matchup against Citadel, a club that lost its first 14 conference games before finishing the season on a two-game winning streak. If the Spartans are to advance as expected, they will battle Wofford on Saturday with the winner earning a spot in the semi-finals. The Spartans defeated the Terriers on Wofford’s home floor on Saturday night so an upset is certainly fathomable.

Furman- I believe the team that has the most firepower in the Friday pairings could be UNCG and they could be the real surprise team of the tourney this season.

Georgia Southern- Georgia Southern. The Eagles have the best starting 5 of any of the Friday teams. If Hewitt and Bussey get hot in Asheville then the Eagles could be an absolute thorn in the side of some teams.

Samford- UNCG--UNCG is the best team playing Friday night and it has the best match up on Saturday if they advance.

The Citadel- None of them. They aren't good enough.

UNCG- I think Samford has the most talent of any of the bottom six teams playing, but they would have to play Davidson in the Quarterfinals. So, I'm actually going to go with UNCG as they have at least one victory against every team in their side of the bracket. I do think Georgia Southern could surprise as well.

Western Carolina- I don't think any team playing on Friday will go past playing on Saturday.

Which top three seed is most likely to disappoint?

Appalachian State- Wofford. They have a whole slate of close games. They lost one on Saturday to UNCG. They could easily lose to UNCG again.

Chattanooga- On this one, I have to go with the Mocs. They are the most unpredictable team in the SoCon’s top three. Wofford may have a slightly tougher road to the semifinals, but I think the Mocs match-up with Georgia Southern would be very difficult, and I think a match-up with Furman would not be easy either. It won’t be easy for either one of those two. But Chattanooga is slightly more likely to fail than Wofford.

Davidson- This one's hard. I'm picking Wofford to make the Championship game, but I could also see them losing Saturday's game. They just lost a bad game to UNCG. Luckily, they have excellent coaching and have a week to get ready for Asheville.

Elon- Chattanooga is most likely to disappoint. The Mocs will draw the winner of the Georgia Southern-Furman contest. Assuming Georgia Southern defeats Furman, a club that recorded two of its three conference wins against the last-place Citadel Bulldogs, they will face off against a Chattanooga squad that they blew out on the road less than two weeks ago. If the Mocs are able to sneak past the Georgia Southern Eagles, they will likely oppose the Wofford Terriers in the semi-finals. The Mocs defeated the Terriers twice in the regular season, but it is an arduous task to beat a formidable conference opponent three times in one calendar year.

Furman- The top three seed that will most likely disappoint is Wofford, who peaked a couple of weeks ago. Struggles of late, including a loss to UNCG in the regular-season finale, have seen Mike Young's team come back to earth a bit.

Georgia Southern- I think it's UTC. For some reason GSU has been an absolute thorn in the side of UTC lately, winning 5 straight against the Mocs. The Eagles still have to get past Furman, but if they do then UTC could find themselves in trouble.

Samford- UTC—hanging by a thread in the last half of the season and style of play may not be most conducive to tournament rigors.

The Citadel- Elon lost its last two games, both at home. Both losses were to upper-echelon league teams, but WCU is near that level too. I could easily see Elon one-and-done.

UNCG- Of the top 3 seeds, I just haven't been as impressed with Wofford this year as I have Davidson and Chattanooga. So, if I have to pick one of them to lose early, that's my pick. I wouldn't be surprised to see chalk all the way to the end, though.

Western Carolina- Wofford. The Terriers have lost 2 of their last 3 games. They may not win their opening game Saturday, UNCG already bet the Terriers and The Citadel has won two straight.

What do you think would be the best match-ups to see Sunday in the semifinals?

Appalachian State- Davidson and Western Carolina. Their last meeting in Asheville was memorable and WCU seems to play better than the sum of their parts in the Civic Center.

Chattanooga- I would really enjoy seeing Davidson play Elon for a third time, because I think the Phoenix are a slightly tougher match-up overall than Western Carolina is. The Phoenix have Lucas Troutman, which is actually a tougher physical match-up with DeMon Brooks. If Elon is on shooting, look out. The other semifinal best match-up would be Chattanooga and Wofford. That would be the third match-up between the Terriers and Mocs, with the Mocs wining the first two. They played two games in eight days against each other in early January, so a lot has changed for both teams.

Davidson- Davidson v WCU. WCU would bring a large crowd. And Chattanooga v Wofford. I think those games would give us matchups with very strong coaching and some of the most dynamic players in the conference.

Elon- A matchup featuring Davidson versus Elon will bring immense intrigue based on the sole fact that the Phoenix handed the Wildcats their only conference loss of the season. The Phoenix would love to avenge Davidson after getting torched by the first-place Wildcats at Alumni Gym on Senior Night.

Furman- I think pretty much everyone wants to see one more Davidson-Elon game and a matchup between Chattanooga and Wofford. Those could be Sunday blockbusters.

Georgia Southern- Davidson vs WCU and UTC vs Wofford. I don't see Elon being able to give Davidson a game in Asheville and UTC and Wofford are definitely the best two teams in the bottom bracket.

Samford- Davidson/Western Carolina (because I don't want to see Elon/Davidson matchup).

The Citadel- The best possible semifinal matchups for the SoCon would be Samford-WCU and anyone besides GSU in the other semifinal. The semis would then feature four schools that are staying in the league.

UNCG- I think there are several good combinations of games that could come out of the lower side of the bracket. UNCG/Wofford vs GA Southern/Chattanooga could be exciting based on similar or contrasting styles.

Western Carolina- Davidson easily puts away either WCU or Elon, in the second semi-final UTC vs the tournament surprise Bulldogs of the Citadel. In a close game, Chattanooga pulls it out by a five point margin.

What team has the best chance to advance in the NCAA Tournament?

Appalachian State- Everyone but Davidson. They will be given a 15 or 16 seed and are could be very dangerous in that spot, but it's still a tough task against a top team. All others would assuredly go to Dayton for the First Four and those games are a crap-shoot, so amazingly that's the answer.

Chattanooga- Obviously, Davidson. The Wildcats, with Brian Sullivan shooting well and DeMon Brooks banging inside, can be dangerous to some teams. At this point, I find it unlikely that the Wildcats would advance, but they have the best chance.

Davidson- Davidson. The Southern has been so weak this season that only Davidson has a chance to be seeded better than a 16. Davidson's Pomeroy this morning is 115. Next is Elon at 193. Here's an opinion on Davidson's chances in the Dance:

Elon- Elon played better than any other Southern Conference team in its non-conference portion of the schedule. That being said, Davidson is riding a 12-game win streak (and if they win the SoCon Tournament their streak will increase to 15) and no team in the country wants to play a squad that has not lost since mid-January.

Furman- Obviously I believe Davidson has the pedigree, know-how and experience to win in the NCAA Tournament...Bob McKillop has a formula for success, which includes prepping his team for the postseason with a brutal non-conference slate.

Georgia Southern- Davidson. They are the best team in the conference.

Samford- Davidson--outside/inside presence and quality coaching. Three point shooting can keep them in any game if they get hot.

The Citadel- I don't believe any team has much of a shot in the NCAAs this year. I would say Davidson has the worst chance of winning a contest in the Big Dance, because it is the league team most likely to avoid the play-in game.

UNCG- Davidson. Why? Because they went 15-1 and crushed the entire league quite handily.

Western Carolina- Davidson - The Wildcats would enter with the highest seed, any other SoCon teams enters as a #16 seed and will draw a #1 seed, if not a playing game. Davidson has the NCAA tournament experience needed to advance.

Who do you think will play in the SoCon Championship Game? Who will win?

Appalachian State- Davidson and Wofford. I like Wofford's style of play and think Young can get them to a tournament final once again. As for the winner, I'm going with the odds and picking Davidson.

Chattanooga- I think Chattanooga and Davidson are the teams I am picking to play in the title game, which is pretty boring and bland. That’s the top two seeds. I’ll take Davidson big in the championship game on Monday night. I think the Mocs could get upset early, but will survive until Monday night. I think Davidson is likely to roll through the first two rounds to get there.

Davidson- Davidson and Wofford. I think Davidson will get to the Championship game again. I think Mike Young will respond to the disappointment of a terrible Senior Night loss and have his Terriers ready to roll in Asheville. They'll avenge the loss to UNCG and then face a Chattanooga team that has already beaten them twice. This time, I think the Terriers will find a way to win. I like Davidson to beat Wofford in Monday's game.

Elon- My gut feeling tells me that Davidson will square off against Wofford for the Southern Conference Championship game. But the fourth seeded Elon Phoenix, the preseason conference favorites, could make some major noise in the tournament. Elon has the most talented starting lineup in the conference, featuring four seniors (Lucas Troutman, Ryley Beaumont, Jack Isenbarger and Sebastian Koch) with over 1,000 points scored in their respective careers. Davidson versus Elon seems like an inevitable semi-final matchup and the winner of that contest will likely win the SoCon Tournament. Conventional wisdom says that Davidson will be representing the Southern Conference in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, but it’s called “March Madness” for a reason: anything is possible.

Furman- I look for the title game to be between Davidson and Chattanooga and that's the way it should be for the two teams that have dominated the Southern Conference basketball landscape over the past two decades.

Georgia Southern- I'm going with Davidson over Wofford in the title game. Coach Young has done an amazing job this year and he gets his squad to the title game but they fall to what is simply a better Davidson team in the title game.

Samford- Davidson--they are unquestionably the best team in the league. They have an inside presence, snipers on the perimeter and though a dandy, a quality coach who gets the most out of his players.

The Citadel- It would be easy to go with the chalk (Davidson vs. UTC). Just to be a contrarian, I'll go with WCU-Wofford, with the Catamounts winning.

UNCG- Chattanooga-Davidson. Davidson should win. The first meeting saw the Cats win by about a million. This one should be much closer, but Davidson is the best team in the league with the best coach. Got to figure they'll win it all on Monday night.

Western Carolina- Davidson vs. UTC - Davidson wins. The Mocs are not quite ready for prime time this season, and have overachieved. Davidson is currently playing their best basketball of the season, and will not be denied in their final season in the SoCon.

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