The EMU showcase is played on the campus of Eastern Michigan and will feature four teams playing three games in a round robin format. UNCG is the SoCon representative in this game, and this will provide a real opportunity for the Spartans to either make waves or come out flat in out of conference play. The schedule will look like this.
Friday, November 21
Youngstown State at Eastern Michigan
UNCG vs. Longwood
Saturday, November 22
UNCG at Eastern Michigan
Longwood vs. Youngstown State
Sunday, November 23
Longwood at Eastern Michigan
Youngstown State vs. UNCG
This is a tournament that could produce as many as three teams tied at 2-1, with one going 0-3. That could happen. Also, one team could go 3-0 and three teams could go 1-2 Yikes.
The Spartans have Kayel Locke and Tevon Saddler will lead UNCG. Locke is a tremendous scorer. He was up and down at times last year but Locke is a very talented player. Saddler was Freshman of the Year and is a very good guard. They may be able to get off to a good start when they take on Longwood. The Lancers are counted on eight new players this year after losing their four best scoring threats from a year ago. Can a guy like Quincy Taylor step right in and lead the Lancers? The Lancers probably need DJ Allen to step up in a big way this year. He seems like he is ready to make a leap. Lotanna Nwogba is a very talented center who could be a huge asset to the Lancers this year.
Youngstown State is also trying to fill some holes. They lost the top three scorers. DJ Cole will be the go to player for the Penguins. He is starting for the third year. They will be relying on freshman Bryce Nickels and Sidney Umude. The Penguins will be forced to play on the road in the opener against Eastern Michigan. The Eagles have there top three scorers returning in Karrington Ward, Raven Lee and Mike Talley. They also are hoping to get something from two new transfers they brought in. The Eagles won over 20 games a year ago and probably should be better this year.
All in all, the best team in this tournament is likely Eastern Michigan and given that they are at home, they should go 3-0 in this thing. Any team that beats the Eagles will be an upset. The other three teams all have some solid contributors coming in, but have major question marks as well. If the young pieces come together for any team, they could finish second. The Spartans are likely the team that should finish second here with Youngstown State third and Longwood fourth. Youngstown State and Longwood are equally capable of finishing second. But the young guys will have to perform like veterans this early in the year.
That Longwood-UNCG game is critical in where the teams finish in the standings. A Longwood win on Friday could set the stage for the Lancers to make an early season statement. A UNCG win could set the stage for them to make a run on Sunday.
I believe Longwood has the advantage of schedule here, not having to play Eastern Michigan until Sunday, while UNCG has the worst situation, playing Eastern Michigan right in the middle.
This set of games may well set the tone for Wes Miller's team this year, and determine exactly where this Spartans team winds up this year. Playing Chowan and UNC-Wilmington beforehand will be important to the season as well, but if they win those two and then have a solid showing up in Ypsilanti, the Spartans could well be on their way to a surprising season.