Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Preview
It has seemingly been a two-horse race for most of the Atlantic Sun season this year. There was a small stretch where NJIT was in the thick of things but reigning champs Lipscomb and Liberty have run away with the league. Both teams are good and would be tough outs in the NCAA Tournament.
2018 Champion: Lipscomb
1-seed Lipscomb Bisons 22-6 (13-2)
The defending champs have been very good again this year. Their losses have been limited to quality teams and FGCU. They also have wins over TCU, SMU, and Vermont. The problem is an at-large bid doesn’t look likely, although not totally out of the realm of possibility. This team scores, and scores a lot. If they continue to do that they will be fine.
2-seed Liberty Flames 24-6 (13-2)
What a year for Liberty. The Flames have been great in conference play and even have a win at UCLA this year. They do not have the same quality wins that Lipscomb has so their only chance to dance is winning the A-Sun tournament. Liberty plays stellar offense and is near the top 100 in KenPom defensive efficiency. Whoever scores most wins and that’s what the two best teams in this league do.
5-seed NJIT Highlanders 20-10 (8-7)
I think NJIT is a very good team in this league and is right behind Lipscomb and Liberty as a contender to win it all. The problem, the gap is pretty big. The Highlanders play solid defense and rely on Zach Cooks and Abdul Lewis offensively. 3-point shooting could be the difference.
3-seed North Florida Ospreys 15-16 (9-7)
One of the cooler nicknames in College Basketball, the Ospreys have turned it on in conference play. North Florida likes to play up tempo and has five guys who average double figures. Turnovers are a huge problem though, 16.5 a games is tough to overcome. Cut those down and they will compete.
4-seed Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 13-17 (8-7)
The Florida teams really found their groove in conference play. Former Marquette guard Haanif Cheatham is one of the leaders on this team scoring 13.2 points per game to go along with 4.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals. They need Cheatham and Casimir to be at their best if they want to win.
6-seed North Alabama 10-20 (7-8)
North Alabama is a first year Division 1 team so they are not eligible to play in the NCAA Tournament.
7-seed Jacksonville Dolphins 12-18 (5-10)
High tempo and inefficient offense are not a good mix. That’s the ball that Jacksonville plays this season. They do have three guys averaging double figures and are one of the better rebounding teams in the league. But offensive efficiency has to bump up if they want to compete with the top of the league.
8-seed Kennesaw State Owls 5-25 (2-13)
The Owls have one of the worst offenses in America. They score just 62.5 points per game and shoot 30.7% from 3. Tyler Hooker is their best player and he scores it well at 18.4 points per contest, but he is not efficient. He needs to improve his shooting percentages to give his team a chance.
Lipscomb over Kennesaw State
NJIT over Florida Gulf Coast
North Florida over North Alabama
Liberty over Jacksonville
Lipscomb over NJIT
Liberty over North Florida
Lipscomb over Liberty