Atlantic Sun Tournament Preview

4 Mar

Where: Campus sites of higher seed

When: 3/4-9


Should win… I’ll reluctantly go with #1 FGCU just because they have home court throughout, and they’re 17-1 there the past two seasons in conference play, and that one loss wasn’t to Mercer. We all remember what FGCU did last year of course, but Jamail Jones’ development over the past 6 games has made the Eagles into the legit ASun contenders they are now. I had my reservations about this team in early to mid January, but Jones gives them a much needed wing to help the Comer/Thompson backcourt and Fieler inside. Weakness…the Eagles can be absolutely torched from outside, and there are some teams in this league who will shoot the 3 all day, and Lipscomb and ETSU were 27-60 from 3 in wins over FGCU this year. FGCU has #8 Stetson tonight, who they swept. The Hatters (great name) are the worst 3 point shooting team in the league, as the offense almost solely goes through Willie Green, who only attempted 20 threes on the year. However, despite sweeping them, FGCU did struggle with Kentwan Smith’s versatility last game, and Stetson played tough in Fort Myers. 

If not them then… I really love #2 Mercer. It was exciting to see FGCU and Dunk City last year, but part of me really wished Mercer had got the job done at home. This team should be playing with an enormous chip on their shoulder after not winning the tournament on their home court last year, and blowing home court advantage this year. The Bears are the most efficient offense and defense in the ASun, and a joy to watch execute in the half court. Langston Hall is one of my favorite point guards in the country, and with White, Gollon, and Thomas, they have four guys on the floor who can step outside and shot the 3 to compliment Coursey inside. Weakness…they can be beat by smaller, more athletic “bigs” like Wallace for North Florida or Craig for Upstate, and they don’t really limit the 3 as much, as they usually do a good job closing out on shooters, but the opportunities are there if you can get hot, like North Florida did in the first meeting. Mercer has #7 Jacksonville, a team they handled in both meetings this year, in the first round. Jacksonville has some height with Dawson and Slawson, but generally like to run with Martin and McDougald, as they play the quickest pace in the conference. They’re generally in a zone, bad idea vs Mercer, and when not, they try to bring some pressure, won’t work vs Mercer. Statistically, they’re the worst defense in the ASun. 

Sleepers: #3 USC Upstate is healthy with Tyler Greene back, although he has looked a bit rusty offensively, but that was to be expected and he has two games under his belt. #6 North Florida is the ideal matchup for Upstate. Torrey Craig and Ricardo Glenn terrorized them inside in a sweep this season. FR PG Dallas Moore is going to be a good one, but he can struggle with turnovers and shot selection. Both teams were a handful for Mercer though, looking ahead. 

Let’s throw #4 ETSU and #5 Lipscomb in the sleepers too, just since both will shoot the 3 prolifically and are capable of getting hot, which would exploit FGCU’s weakness in the second round, and as stated above, the Eagles did lose to both of these teams when they were lit up from outside. Lipscomb has absolutely zero height. None. They’re the smallest team in the country, so they usually have at least 4 and some times 5 guys on the court who will shoot the 3. The only guys in the regular rotation who don’t shoot it are Denny and one half of the Smith twins. JC Hampton has no conscience, and that makes him dangerous in a tournament setting. Lipscomb comes in red hot, having won 4 in a row, but outside of the FGCU whooping, those wins were over NKU, Kennesaw St, and Stetson. ETSU and Lipscomb split this year, winning on each other’s home court. In the two games, 102 threes were attempted, and both were close games. ETSU has almost as little height as Lipscomb, shoot a ton of 3s just like Lipscomb, and play a zone that allows a ton of threes to be shot. Rashawn Rembert shot 208 3s this year, and made 43% of them. He also missed just 20 FTs on the season. A tremendous shooter. ETSU will be without Petey McClain, their starting PG, after he turned an ankle. He and Bartow have had their issues, and McClain is frequently in the doghouse (he was even set to transfer), but you don’t want to be without your point guard come tournament time. Anyway, if you like the 3 ball, tune in to this one tonight. 



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