Southern Conference Tournament Preview

8 Mar

The SoCon tourney will be played at two sites in Asheville, NC , 3/8-11.


My Prediction: #1 Davidson is far and away the team to beat, and any result other than the Wildcats representing the SoCon in the tourney will be a shock. They’re the most efficient team offensively and defensively in the SoCon, and have a beautiful offense when they’re on. Clint Mann is still questionable with his concussion symptoms. He was one of the best sixth men in the country, and capable of making this team a Sweet 16 team if he’s healthy. They only lost one conference game, and that was to Georgia Southern, who is in their half of the bracket, but Davidson washed that loss away with an 83-48 revenge beatdown in the final game of the regular season. Davidson’s weakness is taking away Cohen inside, and forcing the Wildcats to create their own shot. Brooks is the only player on the court capable of doing that, and if he gets in foul trouble, the Wildcats can be vulnerable.

If Not Them Then… I guess maybe #2 Elon? Troutman is healthy enough it appears, and they have some shooters and can get hot from 3 and make a run potentially. Despite having good height, they can be vulnerable on the glass, as Sebastian Koch is a stretch big man. At 6’8, he’s got a beautiful outside stroke though, shooting 44% from 3 on the year. #3 Charleston didn’t beat Davidson in two tries, but they did sneak past Elon way back on Dec 1. The Cougars have a veteran PG in Andrew Lawrence, but I think they don’t utilize Baru, Wiedeman, and Thomas in the interior enough. Stitt tends to take some ill advised 3’s. He’s 4-24 from 3 in C of C’s 5 SoCon losses.

Sleepers: #6 Western Carolina made a run last year, and nearly knocked off Davidson in 2OT in the most exciting conference championship game of the year. Trey Sumler can fill it up, King is a solid big man, and Tankelewicz can shoot it. They have #11 The Citadel first, and they won the only meeting 72-55. The Bulldogs do have Groselle inside, and have surprised a few teams this year, but the loss of DeVontae Wright held them back.

#5 Samford, the 344th youngest team out of 347 D1 teams has been the surprise of the SoCon. They love the 3 and play up tempo, and have lengthy shooters in Kelly and Geffrard. First year coach Bennie Seltzer was a long time Crean assistant, so Samford is fun to watch as they get up and down the court. Turnovers can be an issue, and they’re coming off 3OT’s in the last two games, but they have #12 Furman in the first round. The Paladins are limping into the tourney, with Charlie Reddick questionable, but they do have Croone back. Furman had the highest turnover rate in conference play, which could mean disaster against Samford. The winner will get the fourth bye team, Appalachian State. Samford and ASU had arguably the two best games played in the SoCon this season. They’re one of the smallest teams, but SoCon Defensive POY Nathan Healy makes up for it. Their biggest weakness is a lack of consistent outside shooters. A third meeting between Samford and the Mountaineers looms.

#10 UNC Greensboro features the best pure scorer in the SoCon in Trevis Simpson. David Williams didn’t exactly develop the way they thought he would to give UNCG more balance, but with Simpson and Armstrong, they’re capable of winning a few games this weekend. They play #7 Chattanooga, a team they beat thank to Simpson’s 41 point masterpiece on 14-25 shooting. The Mocs have the worst perimeter defense in the conference, but they get to the line a lot, and Mason, McGhee, and White can all convert from the charity stripe.

The matchup between #8 Wofford and #9 Georgia Southern is the least compelling of the tourney. Both play incredibly slow, and neither can shoot. Wofford has won 3 of their last 4, and swept the Eagles. The Terriers won at Xavier too this year. Lee Skinner can do a little of everything for Wofford, while Cochran is streaky from deep. Aerris Smith didn’t quite have the season Wofford was expecting, but at least they have Indiana Faithfull on the roster. Great name. Holmes is still out for Georgia Southern, and the appeal of the Eagles from back to back wins over Davidson and Charleston quickly faded. Eric Ferguson can be a load in the paint, but they can’t shoot, and they have some suspect PG play after Hewitt was booted from the team in November.

Predictions: Davidson wins. Of course. But I think it’s Samford vs Davidson and Elon vs WCU in semifinals, with Davidson beating Elon with relative ease.



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