The Citadel 71, Toccoa Falls 58
Mercer 74, Kennesaw State 66
Furman 84, Appalachian State 65
Samford 68, Austin Peay 67
So, What Happened?
The SoCon had their best day so far of the college basketball regular season. The SoCon went 4-0, and 3-0 against D1 competition.
The Citadel just played OK in their win, but it was never really in doubt. Mercer was in control for most of the night against Kennesaw State. Furman got Stephen Croone back and completely dominated Appalachian State in his return. Finally, Samford was in control for much of the first half against Austin Peay, but then had to make a last second shot to come up with the dramatic win.
The SoCon is now 4-4 against teams from the non-power 8 (American, ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big Twelve, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC) conferences. That's a solid mark. Of course, six of those games have been at home so far, and the SoCon is 4-2 in those games, while going 0-1 on the road and 0-1 on a neutral court. It is maintaining an above .500 record in these games that is the key to the SoCon raising the profile of the conference and helping their overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. Yes, it is the team more than conference RPI that matters, but to deny the importance of the conference RPI would be a mistake.
As I write this, the SoCon conference RPI is 22. That doesn't mean much right now, as it can change on a dime. But I don't think the SoCon RPI was that high at any point this late in the year a year ago. Expected RPI is in the ballpark of 26 or 27. That is a huge step up from the 30th that the conference finished a year ago.
No doubt- this was a huge day for the SoCon.
Game of the Day- Samford 68, Austin Peay 67
Evan Taylor knocked down a jumper with just three seconds left and the Bulldogs beat the Governors by one. Samford had been up by eleven at halftime, but watched the lead slowly dwindle. Freshman Christen Cunningham, fresh off winning the Freshman of the Week, lead the Bulldogs with 14 points. He also lead the team with five assists, including the game winner. He also had two steals. He is clearly starting to look like a star in the making for the Bulldogs.
Tyler Hood did not score and shot 0 for 7 from the floor and from three point range. That's one rough night. The Bulldogs need Hood to perform better. Michael Bradley scored eight points and collected nine rebounds, which was one of the keys to the game. Bradley needs to be a star for Samford.
Things starting to look better for Samford. It looked like they were in trouble preseason. Now, it looks like they may be OK. They are moving up in the SoCon race.
Player of the Day- Stephen Croone, Furman
Look- without Croone, Furman was crushed by College of Charleston at home. With Croone, Furman cruised by Appalachian State. His stats weren't brilliant- just 12 points, and three rebounds to go along with seven assists. But Croone was the difference in the Paladins. He is one of the best players in the SoCon, and without him the Paladins looked terrible. With him, the Paladins look decent. He is a difference maker. No questions, asked.