Checking In On… the Southern Conference

Posted by rtmsf on January 13th, 2012

Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer.

Reader’s Take 

 

Looking Back

  • In the only regular-season meeting between Western Carolina and Davidson, the Wildcats established SoCon supremacy by beating the Catamounts, 88-67, in a contest between the early division leaders on Thursday. Jake Cohen, who entered averaging 12.4 points per game, torched the Catamounts for 26 points and connected on all four of his three-point attempts. Davidson has now won 13 of its last 14 SoCon regular-season games, dating back to last season.
  • Meanwhile, College of Charleston – who entered Thursday one game behind Davidson in the South Division – suffered a shocking home defeat at the hands of UNC Greensboro.

Non-Conference Recap

  • Despite the strong non-conference showings by Davidson and College of Charleston, the conference has ranked weaker than in years past. CollegeRPI.com rates the conference 23rd. A year ago they ranked 19th and haven’t finished a year as low as 23rd since 2005-06.
  • In spite of the low rankings, the conference did enjoy a successful non-conference season, at least in terms wins against schools from the BCS leagues. Southern Conference schools picked up five wins against BCS schools highlighted by Davidson finally getting revenge against Kansas, taking down the Jayhawks in Kansas City.

Jake Cohen (15) and Davidson Remain The Class Of The SoCon (AP)

South Rising Up

Led by the Wildcats and the Cougars, the South Division has emerged as the power half of the league. The Cougars picked wins against Clemson and Tennessee and have approached the RPI top 50. The six South Division teams own a 33-11 record at home while the six North Division schools are just 26-16 at home.

Worth Noting

  • College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins owns 224 wins at a SoCon school (100 at Appalachian State from 1975-81; 124 at College of Charleston) to move within one victory of fifth place on the SoCon win list. He can tie Duke’s Eddie Cameron (the namesake for Cameron Indoor Stadium) on Saturday against Elon.
  • Davidson and the Wildcats’ Nik Cochran pace the nation in free-throw percentage. Cochran sits atop the leaderboard at 93.8% and as a team, the Wildcats connect at an 81.1% clip.

Power Rankings

  1. Davidson (11-4): The Wildcats established themselves as the early front-runner in the conference by dispatching Western Carolina by 21 points in a meeting of division leaders. Davidson features four starters averaging more than 12 points per game resulting in the conference’s top scoring unit, scoring more than 78 points per game. Davidson checked in at No. 14 on the Mid-Major top 25.
  2. College of Charleston (11-5): Despite the setback against UNC Greensboro, the Cougars remain right behind Davidson in the SoCon pecking order. They will have a chance to regain momentum when they travel to Davidson on Thursday. Since starting 9-1, the Cougars have dropped four of their last six.
  3. Elon (8-7): The Phoenix snapped a five-game losing streak by winning at The Citadel. At 3-1, the Phoenix have moved to the top of the North Division. Lucas Troutman, an All-Freshman selection a season ago, has improved upon his first-year averages of 8.8 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game to 12.7 PPG and 5.9 RPG, both tops on the team.

    Lucas Troutman (31) and Elon Sit On Top Of The North Division (AP)

  4. Western Carolina (8-9): A season-long trend in the Catamounts’ 88-67 loss at Davidson. For the first time in eight games, Western Carolina lost a game in which it outrebounded the opponent. The Catamounts narrowly won the rebounding battle, 37-36. Keaton Cole had made at least two 3-point field goals in each of his past 11 games.
  5. Wofford (9-8): Kevin Giltner and Brad Loesing have each increased their scoring output by more than 100 percent. After the Terriers lost their top three scorers from last season’s SoCon championship squad, Giltner has increased his scoring from 6.2 points per game last year to 15.4 per game. Loesning – who entered his senior season with a scoring average of 5.8 per – has already scored more points this season than in any prior season in averaging 13.8 points per game.
  6. Georgia Southern (6-9): With Thursday’s 58-53 win against Samford, the Eagles secured their sixth win surpassing their win total of a season ago. Eric Ferguson, a consensus All-Freshman player last season, leads the Eagles in scoring at 15.9 points per game and ranks in the top five in the SoCon in field goal percentage, connecting on 56.7 percent of his attempts.
  7. Chattanooga (9-9): After starting 2-7, the Mocs have won three straight and seven of their last nine to even their record at 9-9. Over the last nine games, the Mocs have held their opponents to 59.3 points per game. In the first nine games, the Mocs allowed their opponents to score 68.1 points per game.
  8. Appalachian State (7-8): The Mountaineers continued their run of alternating wins and losses by improving to 7-8 with a 56-50 win against Furman on Thursday. Preseason Player of the Year Omar Carter has seen a decline in his decline from a season ago. After scoring 16.3 points per game and shooting a team best 40.0 percent from the 3-point arc, his scoring is down to 13.0 per game and he is shooting just 29.6 percent from the arc.
  9. Furman (7-9): After going 10 consecutive games without committing more than 15 turnovers in a game, the Paladins have committed an average of 17.0 turnovers per contest, including a season-worst 23 against College of Charleston. After winning three straight games to improve to 6-4, the Paladins have dropped five of six.
  10. UNC Greensboro (3-14): The Spartans ended an 11-game losing streak by defeating College of Charleston for the first time since Feb 25, 2008. They entered the game as the worst shooting and 3-point shooting team in the conference, but hit 44.1 percent of their shots against College of Charleston (their second-best effort this season).
  11. The Citadel (4-12): The Bulldogs endured an eight-game losing streak after starting 2-2. Since the calendar turned to 2012, The Citadel owns victories against Virginia-Wise and Samford. Mike Groselle ranks second in the league in scoring and first in rebounding. He owns nine double-doubles, six more than any other player in the conference.
  12. Samford (3-12): The Bulldogs own just one victory against another Division-I opponent (Nov. 26 at UT Arlington). Samford does pace the SoCon in 3-point field goals/game, hitting on 8.8 per game.

Looking Ahead

  • Saturday, January 14: Georgia Southern at Wofford 7:00 p.m. — The two-time champion Terriers welcome in the Eagles looking to extend a five-game win streak over their South Division rivals. Wofford owns a 6-1 mark at home while Georgia Southern has struggled outside of Statesboro, winning just one of nine road contests.
  • Thursday, January 19: College of Charleston at Davidson 7:00 p.m. — The class of the SoCon meet in the Belk Arena. The Cougars have won four of the last six contests after the Wildcats strung together 11 straight wins. The showdown features the top two scoring teams in the league with Davidson scoring 78.7 points per game and College of Charleston scoring 72.7 points per game. Either the Wildcats or the Cougars have paced the league in scoring every year since 2006.
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