Saturday, March 7, 2015

SoCon Semifinal Previews

Wofford vs. Western Carolina

Time: 6:00 PM
Broadcast: ESPN3

Previously: Wofford swept the regular season series. On January 17, the Terriers won at home 62-43. The Catamounts shot a dismal 27.8% from the floor. The Terriers crushed the Catamounts on the boards, 46-33. Lee Skinner was a dominant force, scoring 13 points with eleven rebounds. James Sinclair scored 16, but just on 5 of 18 shooting from the floor. On Valentine's Day in Cullowhee, following stirring wins over Chattanooga and Mercer, Western Carolina was crushed by Wofford, 75-55. The Catamounts again shot poorly- just 30.5%. The Terriers shot just over 50%. The Terriers also shot 50% from three point range. Karl Cochran poured in 26 points, while Sinclair scored 12 on 4 of 19 shooting.

Match-up: The Terriers defense has smothered Western Carolina in two games this year. They can do that to teams for sure. Can the Catamounts shoot better in this one? They almost have to. Sinclair, Mike Brown and Rhett Harrelson need to shoot the ball well. The Catamounts rebounded better in Cullowhee, but that battle will be critical. Skinner against Torrion Brummitt will be one of the underrated match-ups in this one. The Catamounts will need Brummitt to play Skinner even. Cochran and Spencer Collins are excellent guards. When one has been playing poorly lately, the other has stepped up. If both have poor games, the Catamounts will have a much better chance.

Prediction: Strange things have happened in Asheville in recent years for the Catamounts. Can they get that magic going one more time in this one? Possibly. Still, Wofford is clearly the superior team. The Terriers will have to play semi-poorly and the Catamounts will have to play pretty well for Western Carolina to win this one. It is not out of the question. After all, Sinclair can not possibly keep on playing as poorly as he has against Wofford so far this year. Western Carolina will keep this interesting and make it a close game, but Wofford will come out with the win. Terriers 71, Catamounts 64.

Mercer vs. Furman

Time: 8:30 PM
Broadcast: ESPN3

Previously: Mercer swept Furman, winning the two games by a combined nine points. On January 15 in Macon, the Bears shot 58.5% and outrebounded Furman, 29-15 in a 67-64 win. The Paladins fell behind by 14 early, but fought back and the whole last twelve minutes were played at five points or less. Darious Moten scored 16 points and made 6 of 6 from the floor. On February 7, at Furman the Terriers won 74-68. TJ Hallice scored 16 points with ten rebounds. The Paladins were up five at halftime and the whole second half was pretty much back and forth.

Match-up: These two teams played two very close games despite the fact that Mercer is clearly the better team based on the standings. The Paladins will be playing their third game in three nights, but have been gaining confidence each night. Stephen Croone was not particularly good on Saturday, but was brilliant on Friday night. Kris Acox has been rebounding well. Kendrec Ferrara has actually been making threes. TJ Hallice going in the paint against Acox and Ferrara will be critical. The Bears efficient offense, with Darious Moten and Ike Nwamu and the rest of the team, will be tough for the Paladins to contain. The Paladins really need to continue see the whole team step up in a big way if they want to pull off this upset.
Prediction: The Paladins are playing good basketball and have played two close games with Mercer. It is certainly possible that they could pull off the shocker. If it gets into another really close game, Furman is playing with enough confidence that they could easily pull it out. The question is if Mercer will let them keep it that close. Moten, Nwamu and Hallice make enough plays for Mercer to jump out to an early lead and keep the Paladins at bay. Bears 74, Paladins 64.

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