Southern Conference Tournament Preview
To be very honest, I think this league deserves multiple bids, but will they get them is another story. Wofford is one of the best mid-majors in the country who swept the regular season in the SoCon, Furman was ranked and beat Loyola-Chicago and Villanova, UNC Greensboro has quietly put together a 26-win season, and East Tennessee State is always in the thick of things in this conference, or so it seems recently.
2018 Champion: UNC-Greensboro
1-seed Wofford Terriers 26-4 (18-0)
Why can this team win? Because they are the best team in the league. They shoot the ball incredibly well and have the player of the year and quite possibly an All-American in Fletcher Magee.
2-seed UNC Greensboro Spartans 26-5 (15-3)
This team has lost to LSU, Kentucky, Wofford (twice), and Furman once. While they don’t have quality wins they have no bad losses. The defense is the calling card for the Spartans. Their weakness is from beyond the arc, if they can shoot closer to 40% than 30% like they do, that can be the difference.
3-seed Furman Paladins 24-6 (13-5)
The squad that beat Villanova and Loyola early in the season when that was big, is still relevant and on the bubble. The Paladins are another very strong defensive team and have a great big named Matt Raferty who leads the team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals. Jordan Lyons is the key to this team, he can heat up quickly and score from anywhere on the floor.
4-seed East Tennessee State Buccaneers 23-8 (13-5)
ETSU doesn’t have the big name transfers that they did a few years ago, but they do have a very balanced group this year lead by Jeromy Rodriguez. Rodriguez averages a double-double and they have four guys averaging over 10 points per game. Turnovers have been a problem for this team and they need to cut them down in order to have a chance.
5-seed Chattanooga Mocs 12-19 (7-11)
In my opinion, no team outside of the top 4 are capable of winning this tournament. Kevin Easley would need to have a massive tournament to get this team to the title.
6-seed Mercer Bears 11-19 (6-12)
Mercer is actually a pretty efficient team in terms of KenPom, which is surprising when you see their record. The Bears will need their duo of Cummings and Stair to be efficient offensively and limit turnovers.
7-seed Samford Bulldogs 16-15 (6-12)
This team has four players that average double figures and they need them all to step up. Josh Sharkey is their best player but doesn’t shoot the 3 particularly well and struggles with turnovers. If they can limit their turnovers and spread out the scoring they can be tough.
8-seed VMI Keydets 10-20 (4-14)
VMI plays one of the fastest tempos in the country and they need to be ultra efficient to win. Outside of having a great name, Bubba Parham is a really good scorer. He can light it up from anywhere and will need to do that and more.
9-seed Western Carolina Catamounts 7-24 (4-14)
Carlos Dotson and Kameron Gibson are both solid players for Western Carolina but they have no chance to win this tournament. These two will have to go absolutely OFF in order for them to have a chance.
10-seed The Citadel Bulldogs 12-17 (4-14)
The Citadel is actually a really interesting team. They run a hectic pace and are efficient considering the tempo on the offensive end. They have a guy Matt Frierson who is 44 of 44 from the free throw line this year. They also have Lew Stallworth who scores over 20 points per game and shoots 52.7% from the field. If there were a team to make a run, it would be the Bulldogs because of their style and offensive efficiency.
VMI over Western Carolina
The Citadel over Samford
Wofford over VMI
ETSU over Chattanooga
UNC Greensboro over The Citadel
Furman over Mercer
Wofford over ETSU
Furman over UNC Greensboro
Wofford over Furman