Samford vs. Appalachian State, 11:00 AM
Appalachian State has beaten Samford twice this year, including once at Samford just a week ago. The Mountaineers may have Jay Canty and Mike Neal- it's a little unclear. Tommy Spagnolo is the Mountaineers best player at this point in time. He plays inside. Ty Toney is a dangerous three point shooter. Michael Obacha is one of the SoCon's better rebounders. Tim Williams is inside the paint for Samford. He is a real force inside and can be really tough for the Mountaineers to handle. Isaiah Williams is a great freshman guard. He can score. Raijon Kelly has not been playing quite as many minutes, but he is a very good player who can drive the ball. This is going to be an interesting match-up. Samford has the worst defense in the whole SoCon. They do a good job of blocking shots, but not much else. But the Bulldogs can score. The Mountaineers are the worst shooting team in the SoCon. Something has got to give. Given how much Samford has struggled at the SoCon Tournament, I'll believe Samford wins one when I see it. I could easily see it on Friday- but I can't pick it. Mountaineers 75, Bulldogs 72.
Georgia Southern vs. Furman, 1:30 PM
The Eagles have beaten Furman twice this year, including once at Furman just a week ago. (That sentence sounds familiar.) The Eagles have very good guard play- lead by Jelani Hewitt and Tre Bussey. When these guys shoot well, they are very difficult to beat. They are not a great defensive team, mainly because of their lack of size. The Paladins have a great guard as well, in Stephen Croone. It will be a pleasure to watch Croone battling Hewitt. Croone is one of the fastest players in the SoCon with the ball. The Paladins also have some height. Kendrec Ferrara is 6-9 and Andonis Rwabigwi is 6-8. They are both big guys that can play in the paint. Charlie Reddick's senior leadership has also been invaluable. The Eagles have shown a lot of improvement this year, but beating a team three times in one year is very difficult. I've been saying for weeks that I thought Furman would win a game in Asheville. I don't see any reason to change my mind now. They will beat the Eagles with their inside game and Croone makes a big play late to win it. Paladins 78, Eagles 74.
UNCG vs. The Citadel, 4:00 PM
The Spartans beat the Bulldogs in overtime earlier this year. Now, having won two straight, the Bulldogs are playing their most confident basketball of the year. The Spartans need Kyle Cain and Kayel Locke to step up in a big way in this tournament. They need to play like the big guys they are. Cain is one of the better players in the SoCon. Tevon Saddler is one of the better freshman in the SoCon. He needs to step up for the Spartans as well. The Bulldogs Matt Van Scyoc and Ashton Moore have really stepped up in recent weeks. Moore has turned into a premier scorer. Van Scyoc has always been one of the key players on this team. The Bulldogs lost so many close games. I said earlier this year that if they ever won a game, they might go on a long winning streak once they learned how to win. Now they've learned. Can the Bulldogs pull off the first round upset? I think this game should be a whole lot of fun. I expect it to be an up and down game that the Spartans hold on and win, but it won't be pretty. Spartans 79, Bulldogs 72.