Saturday, January 17, 2015

SoCon Previews- January 17

Game of the Day- Western Carolina at Wofford (7:00 PM)

What's the Story: The Catamounts are 3-3 in SoCon play and find themselves needing to get back on track. The schedules are still uneven, so falling below .500 at this point would not necessarily be an indicator about where they finished. But this is a chance for them. Wofford just fell at The Citadel and has been playing close games for weeks. Was that loss to the Bulldogs a wake up call? Or is this just who Wofford is this year- a team that plays ugly basketball but normally finds a way to win? If ever this team was going to play a complete game, you would think this would be it. If it isn't, the Catamounts have the talent to surprise them.
Match-up: I'm really interested to see Torrion Brummitt taking on Lee Skinner. Brummitt has really come on while Skinner has always been a special player. Their match-up should be very entertaining. James Sinclair and Karl Cochran are two of the better scorers in the league so those two will be fun to watch go at it as well. Western Carolina has a very productive offense, but Wofford has been playing slightly more efficiently in conference play.

Prediction: This is an interesting match-up between two of the top five teams in the SoCon. Of course, the game being at Wofford is going to be especially difficult for the Catamounts. The question really is if the Terriers show up as angry as you would think they would. You would expect them to come out fired up and playing their best basketball this month. If they don't, I'm not sure when they will. Bad timing for Western Carolina. Terriers 76, Catamounts 63.

ETSU at VMI (1:00 PM)

What's the Story: When, oh when, will VMI's offense start clicking? It's hard to know, but it has to happen eventually, right? At 2-5 in SoCon play, the Keydets need to get it going eventually, but it isn't at this point. They have been downright bad on offense in SoCon play. ETSU, on the other hand, has been very good. With a game at Wofford next Saturday, the Bucs have a chance to make a real SoCon statement. They just need to get there without slipping up again. If nothing else, these two teams play the fastest basketball in the conference, and should be an entertaining watch.

Match-up: Up and down. Up and down. Tim Marshall. QJ Peterson. Rashawn Rembert. Jalen Riley. Up and down. Up and down. These two teams will get back and forth a ton. With the way Rembert and Riley have been scoring, it will be interesting to see if Peterson and Marshall can shoot the ball well enough for the Keydets to win. Eventually, the shots will start falling again for the Keydets. The Bucs have not been a good defensive team, so this may be the night.

Prediction: The Keydets are going to make shots eventually. However, Riley and Rembert are going to put up big numbers. They both might score 30 points in this one. Those guys are so good. VMI at home will put up a fight, but ETSU is a much better team right now. Unless VMI shoots lights out, expect ETSU to win. Bucs 81, Keydets 73.

Furman at The Citadel (1:00 PM)

What's the Story: How does The Citadel bounce back after their biggest win in years? We'll find out on Saturday when they host Furman. The beauty of winning a big game is that it makes the next game even bigger. The Citadel is now 3-3 in SoCon play and has a chance to really start putting some space in between them and the rest of the teams chasing a bye. Furman is one of those teams. The Paladins are 2-4, but with a win, they would suddenly find themselves tied with The Citadel in the standings. This is going to be an interesting match-up of two teams looking to be known as the surprise of the conference this year.

Match-up: The new Stephen Croone is playing at a different level. He is distributing and rebounding, but he has been making fewer shots and scoring fewer points. Is his play going to help them come up with a win in this one? Or will he go back to his old shooter's mentality? You have to admit- watching him and Ashton Moore have a shootout would be a ton of fun. In fact, let's just do that and say the winner's team wins the game. Kris Acox will need to perform well because CJ Bray and PJ Horgan are a relatively tough inside match-up.

Prediction: The Paladins are a good enough team to win this. Really- how does The Citadel respond? There are new expectations and new excitement. How do they handle that? It's tough to know. They could lay an egg in this one. But I don't expect them to. After all, they are a slightly better club to begin with, probably. Moore continues to knock down big shots and lead the Bulldogs to the win. Bulldogs 66, Paladins 62.

Samford at Mercer (4:00 PM)

What's the Story: The Bulldogs have played the toughest schedule in SoCon play and Mercer has played the easiest. That won't change at all in this one. Samford is so close to coming up with a huge win, but just haven't been able to get it done. Maybe this is the time Samford gets it done. Mercer will be in the SoCon lead if they win this game. All it takes is one win over a winless SoCon team to be alone in first. That's about as easy as it could be for Mercer. With the way this Samford team has played, it might not be as easy as it sounds.

Match-up: Darius Jones-Gibson has turned into a top level player. Christen Cunningham has been performing very well at point guard, but looked awful against Chattanooga. Mercer has been good on defense, but has been even better (and more balanced) on offense in recent weeks. Darious Moten, Ike Nwamu and Phillip Leonard are all playing well. In the mean time, Jibri Bryan, TJ Hallice and Jordan Strawberry are all doing their part too. This team is balanced and an interesting one to watch. Samford's pressure defense can cause problems for teams, but Mercer is not turnover-prone generally. Avoiding the turnovers will be key in this one.

Prediction: The Bulldogs just haven't put it all together yet. It seems highly unlikely that they put it together at Mercer, a very difficult place to play. The Bears are a good team, especially at home. Mercer could certainly come out flat, but they should be able to pull away in this one and come up with a relatively easy win. Bears 71, Bulldogs 60.

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