Conference Tourney Primers: Atlantic Sun

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 3rd, 2015

It’s the start of Championship Fortnight, so let’s gear up for the next 13 days of games by breaking down each of the Other 26’s conference tournaments as they get under way – starting with tonight’s action.

Atlantic Sun Tournament

Dates: March 3, 5, 8

Site: Campus sites (higher-seeded teams host)



What to expect: Can the Atlantic Sun create another year of NCAA Tournament magic? After Dunk City’s run in 2013 and Mercer’s upset over Duke last season, North Florida hopes to become the league’s next March darling. The Ospreys, which beat Purdue in December, won the league outright – sweeping preseason favorite Florida Gulf Coast along the way – and earned home court advantage throughout the A-Sun Tournament. They are the team to beat, but don’t discount the Eagles – led by two holdovers from that 2013 Sweet Sixteen team – or USC Upstate, which defeated North Florida twice this season.

Favorite: North Florida. Few teams are as three-point reliant as North Florida, which works out well – the Ospreys shoot 38.5 percent from behind the arc. They also have good size and an excellent point guard, sophomore Dallas Moore (15.4 PPG, 3.9 APG), who hit a clutch three-pointer in that early-season upset over the Boilermakers.

Darkhorse: USC Upstate. There are probably only three teams capable of winning this event (maybe Northern Kentucky has a shot, but it remains NCAA Tournament-ineligible), so our darkhorse is actually the three seed. USC Upstate was the only Atlantic Sun team to beat North Florida this season – a feat it accomplished did twice – thanks in large part to Greene’s 64 combined points. Eddie Payne’s aggressive zone schemes create problems for the Ospreys’ perimeter-oriented attack, so if the Spartans are able to get past Florida Gulf Coast in the semifinals – look out.

Who wins: North Florida. Unless they go ice cold from deep, expect the regular season champs to reach its first-ever NCAA Tournament. USC Upstate – while a bad match-up for North Florida – probably isn’t good enough to beat Florida Gulf Coast in its own gym, yet the Eagles haven’t proven capable of beating the Ospreys in theirs.

Player to watch: Ty Green – USC Upstate. The newly-minted Atlantic Sun Player of the Year (20.1 PPG, 2.2 APG) averaged 30.0 points per game against North Florida and Florida Gulf Coast this season, but that doesn’t tell the whole story; he also boasts the best steal rate in the conference, at times willing to hit the deck for loose balls. Keep an eye on the senior.

Tommy Lemoine (250 Posts)

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