Checking in on… the SoCon

Posted by jstevrtc on December 19th, 2009

Justin Glover is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.

Standings (conference/overall)


  1. Western Carolina  2-0 / 10-1
  2. Appalachian State  1-1 / 6-4
  3. Samford  1-1 / 3-7
  4. Elon  1-1 / 3-8
  5. UNC Greensboro  1-1 / 2-6
  6. Chattanooga  0-1 / 5-5


  1. Charleston  3-0 / 5-3
  2. Furman  1-1 / 5-3
  3. Citadel  1-1 / 6-5
  4. Davidson  1-1 / 3-7
  5. Wofford  0-2 / 5-6
  6. Georgia Southern  0-2 / 3-9

Quick Hits. After making a call to my old boss at Western Carolina I made the three-hour trip from Atlanta, GA, to Cullowhee, NC, to see this impressive Western Carolina team in person take on my alma mater, the Campbell Fighting Camels, on December 10th.  Having previously covered both teams I knew this game was going to be a good one.  Western Carolina can really shoot, hitting ten threes including four from its senior point guard Brigham Waginger. The one player who impressed me the most was junior-college transfer Mike Williams who the fans call “And One” because he makes a ton of lay-ups while getting fouled, as you’d guess.  Williams was lightning quick and scored 16 off the bench to key the win for the Catamounts 66-59. Campbell ran a nice half-court trap that forced Western Carolina into 15 turnovers and Jonathan Rodriquez scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds but it wasn’t enough.  Watching the hottest team in the SoCon live gives you a different perspective on how good this team really can be. Two days later they defeated Louisville on the road and ran their win streak to nine straight games thanks to 23 points from Mike Williams.  In the college insider mid-major top 25 rankings the Catamounts are currently ranked 8th and are receiving votes in the national Top 25 poll. Keep a close eye on this team as they head on the road to play Clemson before Christmas.

Other NotesCollege of Charleston is really coming on strong and showing why they are also a favorite to win the Southern Conference crown come March.  Now 5-3 overall and starting 3-0 in conference has put the Cougars right where they want to be.  With the non-conference schedule about to end, the conference season will really start to shape things as a whole proving what teams are looking to make a push come time for March Madness.

Most Disappointing Teams. In recent weeks the two biggest disappointments have been Georgia Southern who is now 3-9 and 0-2 in the conference. The Eagles have lost five straight games and are giving up 76 PPG, which doesn’t help.  Also, Davidson has been hit by a tough opening schedule, as they are 3-7 overall and 1-1 in the conference.  The Wildcats are trying to earn some non-conference wins in the upcoming weeks.

Sizzling players. There are three players who really have stood out this week with Donald Sims from Appalachian State third in the conference in scoring at 16.9 points per game. Andrew Goudelock from College of Charleston averaging 16.8 has really been scoring to help the Cougars open up 3-0 in conference play. Finally junior-college transfer Mike Williams from Western Carolina who is averging 10.7 points per game off the bench but dropped 23 points against Louisville in the upset.

Upcoming Important Match-ups:

  • Sat. Dec. 19 College of Charleston @ Clemson 7:30 p.m. – Another chance for a SoCon school to knock-off an ACC opponent.
  • Sat. Dec. 19 Wofford @ South Carolina 7:00 p.m. – Wofford looking for two wins against SEC opponents with Georgia being the first.
  • Tues. Dec. 22 Western Carolina @ Clemson 7:30 p.m. – A chance for the Catamounts to continue its winning streak against an ACC opponent.
  • Tues. Dec. 22 Georgia Southern @ Georgia State 7:30 p.m. – Two mid-majors renew its in-state rivalry.
  • Wed. Dec. 23 College of Charleston @ Hawaii 12:30 a.m. ESPN 2 – Christmas Tournament in Hawaii for CofC hoping to earn some wins for the SoCon.

Team Breakdowns:

  • Appalachian State (6-4). The Mountaineers continue to be a sneaky team with a 1-1 record in the SoCon after a key road win against Wofford, 77-76, with Donald Sims scoring 25 points. Appalachian State followed that up with a 113-91 victory against Milligan on December 17th. Donald Sims led the way with 23 points to run the win streak to two games.
  • Chattanooga (5-5). The Mocs have been in the middle of the pack in the SoCon but have dropped two of their last three games including a 19-point loss to Elon to fall to 0-1 in conference play. They responded with a 22-point win against Mississippi Valley State 82-60 on December 12th. On December 14th the Mocs lost to Georgia Tech 95-64 but Ty Patterson did have 22 points in the defeat.
  • College of Charleston (5-3). The Cougars have hit their stride putting together a 4-game winning streak in December winning three straight conference games to start 3-0. After beating Davidson 67-55 the Cougars followed it up with a tight road win against UNC-Greensboro 67-64 thanks to 28 points from junior Andrew Goudelock.  On December 16th College of Charleston defeated Charleston Southern 87-74 for its fourth straight win.
  • Davidson (3-7). The Wildcats have struggled this season but also have played a strong schedule against some really good teams. Davidson lost to College of Charleston 67-55 to drop to 1-1 in conference play. On December 12th the Wildcats took on mid-major powerhouse Gonzaga on the road losing 103-91. Jake Cohen scored 16 points and has been coming on strong of late. On December 17th Davison defeated New Jersey 90-49 thanks to 23 points from Cohen.
  • Elon (3-8). Elon is sitting at 1-1 in the conference after a key victory against Chattanooga 82-63 on December 5th. The Phoenix traveled to Raleigh, N.C., to take on N.C. State and put a scare in the Wolfpack but fell in the end 79-76 getting 26 points from senior forward Adam Constantine. Elon had a four-point lead with four minutes to play but just couldn’t hold on.
  • Furman (5-3). The Paladins have only had two games in recent weeks both coming as losses with the first a tight 64-57 loss against Western Carolina. Junior Jordan Miller led the team in scoring with 15 points.  Furman then traveled to Clemson on December 13th losing 82-53 with Miller scoring 11 points in the loss. The Paladins sit at 1-1 in conference play.
  • Georgia Southern (3-9). The Eagles have been struggling of late dropping three-straight non-conference games first at N.C. State 75-57 on December 12th and home against Coastal Carolina 69-58 on December 15th.  Georgia Southern lost to Evansville 75-58 on December 17th with Willie Powers scoring 11 points in the loss. The Eagles are also 0-2 on the SoCon hoping to get back on track in the next coming weeks.
  • Samford (3-7). Samford has only played two games, going 1-1 in them. They defeated Spring Hill on December 12th 58-48 with Trey Montgomery scoring 12 points in the victory. Samford then traveled to in-state rival Alabama on December 16th losing 60-45 with Josh Davis scoring 13 points in the loss.
  • The Citadel (6-5). This is a very interesting team that loves to get up a lot of shots.  They defeated Georgia Southern on December 5th 68-43 with Zach Urbanus scoring 20 points. After watching the Michigan State game on ESPNU, you could tell this team could present some problems to other SoCon teams in the future. The Bulldogs lost 69-56 to the Spartans but were within single digits a couple of times in the game as Cameron Wells scored 16 points in the loss.  Also the Citadel hosted Michigan State in that game and really gave the Spartans a scare.
  • UNC-Greensboro (2-6). UNCG has started conference play at 1-1 right in the middle of the pack but has lost two-straight games against College of Charleston 67-64 and Princeton 65-50 on December 13 with Ben Stywall scoring 14 points in the loss.
  • Western Carolina (10-1). The Catamounts are clearly the hottest team in the SoCon and could make the argument for one of the top mid-majors at the moment. They are riding a nine-game winning streak that includes some impressive victories.  First, Western Carolina defeated Furman 64-57 to open up 2-0 in conference play. Then the Catamounts defeated a solid Bradley team on the road, 75-67, on December 7th. On December 10th they kept the winning streak going against Campbell 66-59 thanks to 16 points from Mike Williams.  Western Carolina finished the run by going on the road and stunning Louisville 91-83 thanks to 24 points off the bench from Mike Williams, who earned SoCon player of the week thanks to that performance.
  • Wofford (5-6). The Terriers have lost two of its last three games and started 0-2 in the conference by only a combined six points. The second loss came to Appalachian State 77-76 at home with Noah Dahlman scoring 25 points in the loss. Wofford then lost 73-62 to Navy on December 12th. Dahlman (18.3 ppg) has been unreal this season leading the team in scoring eight out of the first 11 games this year.
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Checking in on the… Southern Conference

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2008


Andrew Baker from Mid Major Review is the RTC correspondent for the Southern and Atlantic Sun Conferences.

Early Season Musings

The beginning of the season has been a normal one for the Southern Conference.  The SoCon isn’t doing too well out of conference against Division I opposition.  Ten of the conferences 15 wins have come against non D-I opponents.  This stat makes it real difficult to foresee any chance of the SoCon seeing a second bid.  Since it is so early in the season, we will go over the three teams that we spoke in depth about in our SoCon Preview.

The leaders with three victories are the College of Charleston Cougars.  Charleston finished 3rd in their own Charleston Classic last weekend with their lone defeat coming against a good Temple team.  Through two games they are being led by sophomore guard Andrew Goudelock at 17.5 PPG with senior forwards Dustin Scott and Jermaine Johnson contributing 10.5 PPG.  The Cougars played Charleston Southern and picked up a 10-point win over the Pirates 93-83 last night.  The Cougars have a game against MEAC  member South Carolina State on Monday before playing South Carolina in a week’s time.  It should be a dandy.

Even with the loss the other night to Oklahoma, the Davidson Wildcats and Stephen Curry are looking pretty good.  After ripping Guilford and James Madison, the Wildcats played competitively against the Sooners before succumbing 82-78 on Tuesday night.  Curry dropped 44 points against the Sooners, scoring well over half of his team’s output.  There is no doubt that Curry is the heart and soul, going 12-29 from the field and 14-14 from the free throw line against OU.  Only one other Wildcat managed to score in double digits.  The Wildcats did a wonderful job of taking care of the ball by only committing 5 turnovers in the game.  The Cats go from Oklahoma to the return game of last seasons Bracketbusters against Winthrop tonight.  In the next two weeks they will continue their quest to beat the big boys against North Carolina State and West Virginia.  Davidson should be able to stay competitive against any team if Curry continues to drop 37.5 PPG.

Appalachian State had an interesting opening week.  In their first game they dropped a high scoring affair to UNC-Wilmington 108-101.  Then Wednesday night they played an absolute barnburner against Charlotte.  The 49ers took ASU to double overtime at home in Boone before the Mountaineers finally topped UNCC 87-84 over 50 minutes of basketball.  It’s still early, but because of the two high scoring games they have been in, App State has six players averaging in double figures.  Donald Sims and Kellen Brand are leading them at this very early point in the season.  The real problem for the Mounts has been turnovers.  In the two games against UNC-Wilmington and Charlotte they had 27 and 22 turnovers, respectively.  It could be a real long season for App State if they can’t find someone to take care of the ball.  We will see if the Mounts are improving on Saturday when they visit Niagara.  A week from then they will host Campbell before beginning their two December conference games.

It’s still early for the Southern Conference, but if they ever expect to get that second bid into the NCAA Tournament they have to start scheduling more difficult opposition and then have to beat that opposition.  As was stated before, 66% of their current win total is against non-Division I opponents.  This is not a good way to impress anyone, especially the NCAA tourney committee when it comes time to perhaps award a second bid to Davidson, should they fall in the conference tournament.  It could be the snub that will be talked about for a long time.

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ATB: Mon/Tues Night Wrapup

Posted by rtmsf on November 28th, 2007

ATB v.4


Detroit Sucks. Monday was an extremely light night, with no ranked teams playing (not that we could see it anyway amidst our hand-to-hand mouth combat with feral dogs and a thermostat that randomly alternated between blistering and frostbite conditions) . There were a couple of interesting games on the board, however, and the one that caught our attention the most was the early SoCon showdown between Davidson and Appalachian St. Why they’re playing in November, we have no idea, but if Davidson were to lose any conference games this year, we figured that away at App St and at UNCG are the most likely candidates. Well, Stephen Curry made sure that wasn’t going to happen, as he blistered the Mountaineers for a 26-pt first half en route to a final tally of 38/6/4 stls with nine (!) threes in an eleven-pt victory. From our perch, this was a clear statement by Curry and the Davidson program that they aren’t to be trifled with at the mid-major level – they have their eyes set on regularly competing with the UNCs and Dukes of the world. #21 Davidson 71, Appalachian St. 60. The only other notable game of the night was the “play-in game” of the ACC/Big 10 Challenge between Iowa and Wake Forest. Wake got 15/8 from a BWS named Chas McFarland (seriously, he’s named Chas) and gutted out a road win in an ugly, ugly game (eFG% combined = 37%, incl. 3-30 from three). We’re not convinced Wake is any good this year, though, as the Deacs always seem to win this game (7-1 in the Challenge) no matter how the rest of the season goes. Wake Forest 56, Iowa 47.

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There were too many games to cover here, so let’s hit the broad highlights:

ACC/Big 10 Challenge. #9 Indiana 83, Georgia Tech 79. IU got the only win of the night for the Big 10 at home in a tightly contested game versus the Yellowjackets. We caught a little bit of this one and all we could think is that this is yet another example of never knowing what to expect from Georgia Tech. Times like tonight they look like they can compete with anyone in the country; then they’ll turn around and lose to Georgia St. next week. E-Giddy went for 29 (8 TOs, though), but the key player for IU was DJ White (18/14/3 blks). #10 Duke 82, Wisconsin 58. We feel like we’ve all watched this game a million times. Duke hits a three, takes a charge, hits another three, Crazies going wild, pressure D causes opponent time-out. That was this Wisconsin game in a nutshell. The Badgers were on their way out of it by the second tv timeout. Meanwhile, Coach K is clearly on a mission to re-invent how basketball is played at the collegiate level. The closest analog we can remember in recent history to this Duke team was the Villanova teams of recent vintage of Kyle Lowry, Allan Ray, Mike Nardi and Randy Foye, but even they played with a post man in Curtis Sumpter. Duke isn’t even bothering with the Sumpter role, and don’t give us Kyle Singler either. We still say this smallball strategy will ultimately catch up with the Devils when they play a team with athletic bigs and defensive guards, but that day hasn’t come yet. Duke put five players (led by Paulus’ 18) in double figures, but where did Taylor King come from (5 threes)? #24 Clemson 61, Purdue 58. We didn’t see much of this one, but what we saw exhibited a Purdue team filled with hustling guards who wouldn’t let Clemson pull away. Had the Boilers shot it a little better from three (2-12), they could have taken this one. Take nothing away from Clemson, though – they’re well on their way to another 17-0 start. Virginia 94, Northwestern 52. This is why the Big 10 never wins these competitions – the ACC almost always defends its home courts. Sean Singletary had 18/10 assts in the win. Florida St. 75, Minnesota 61. To wit, same as above. Tubby takes his first loss as the Minny coach.

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Other Ranked Teams.

  • #1 Memphis 104, Rider 82. Derrick Rose with a great game (19/12 assts) as Memphis rolls again.
  • #7 Tennessee 93, NC A&T 59. UT was up thirty at halftime; Lofton with 24 and Tyler Smith with 17/12.
  • #20 Pittsburgh 80, Boston Univ. 53. Another balanced attack from Pitt (all five starters betw. 9 and 15 pts).

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Is This Really Necessary?

Posted by rtmsf on November 15th, 2007

So you’ve probably heard by now that there will be a third national postseason (after the NCAA and NIT) tournament called the College Basketball Invitational starting in March 2008 (um, great name, guys).  The Gazelle Group, the people who are bringing us all these lively preseason tourneys such as the Coaches v. Cancer and the CBE Classic have somehow paid off convinced the NCAA that giving another sixteen crappy overlooked teams more games to play is a good idea

Selection Process:
The 16 team field will consist of teams that are not selected for the 65 team NCAA Tournament. Teams will be invited based upon their performance during their conference and non-conference schedule, as well as how well the team is playing at the end of the regular season.

The College Basketball Invitational will be a single-elimination tournament, up until the Championship Series, with all games being played at campus sites. The Championship Series will be a best of three series, home-away-home, in which the higher seed will get the first and last (if necessary) home games.    

Ohhhh, so that’s how it will work, huh?  So considering 2007, what kinds of teams would have been invited to this thing?  25-8 Appalachian St.?  22-9 Bucknell?  Teams that had really good seasons from smaller conferences?  Or the same tired ninth and tenth place teams from the major conferences?  Well, we can actually answer that question.  Here’s a sample bracket based on last year’s season results provided by the Gazelle Group.

CBI Projected 2007 

Oh.  16-15 Oklahoma.  17-15 LSU.  17-14 UConn.  17-14 Nebraska.  These teams were simply not very good last year – didn’t we see enough of them already?

Sounds thrilling.  Can’t wait.           

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Conference Primers: #17 – Southern

Posted by rtmsf on October 31st, 2007

Season Preview Banner 3

Predicted Order of Finish:


  1. Davidson (23-5) (18-2)
  2. Georgia Southern (17-12) (12-8)
  3. College of Charleston (15-12) (11-9)
  4. Wofford (15-14) (10-10)
  5. Furman (10-18) (8-12)
  6. Citadel (5-24) (3-17)


  1. UNC-Greensboro (18-11) (13-7)
  2. Appalachian St. (18-13) (12-8)
  3. Western Carolina (15-15) (10-10)
  4. Chattanooga (11-15) (9-11)
  5. Elon (6-22) (4-16)

SoCon Logo

WYN2K. The Southern Conference has a reputation as a league on the rise, and deservedly so. After stellar regular seasons in 2006-07 from division winners Davidson and Appalachian St., including five wins over BCS schools among the league members (the highest total wins among the conferences we’ve rated thus far), the league has its sights on breaking into mid-major territory. If this is to ultimately happen, it will likely be led by Davidson, who with spectacular sophomore guard Stephen Curry, will challenge itself with several elite OOC games this season. Even though the league has been a one-bid conference throughout the 64/65 team era, last year Appalachian St. was very close to earning an at-large NCAA bid before ultimately settling for an NIT berth. And with the name cachet of Bobby Cremins bringing in exceptional recruits at College of Charleston, this league could be knocking on the door for two bids sooner rather than later.

Predicted Champion. Davidson (#9 seed NCAA) is the clear choice here. Davidson returns all five starters from the team that pushed extremely talented and athletic Maryland in the NCAA first round last year (down only four after the last tv timeout), including the aforementioned Curry, who had sick numbers for a freshman guard (22 ppg, 5 rpg, 3 apg, 2 spg, .408 3fg%, .855 ft%) including a run of 26.1 ppg the last ten games. But this is no one-man show. Aside from excellent point guard Jason Richards (#2 nationally in total assists), post men Thomas Sander and Boris Meno also both had outstanding seasons manning the inside, clearing boards and playing tough defense. Coach Bob McKillop also adds two significant recruits – Aaron Bond, who received some Burger Boy consideration last year; and his son, Brendan McKillop, who turned down ACC teams Virginia Tech and NC State to play for his pops. Knowing that Davidson needs a high RPI to offset any chance of being left at the altar should the Wildcats stumble in the conference tourney, McKillop has beefed up the OOC schedule considerably, setting up made-for-tv games with local bullies UNC and Duke in Charlotte and a trip to Raleigh to play NC State. Another road trip will include a game vs. UCLA at the Wooden Classic. All four of those teams are ranked in the Top 25.

Others Considered. We don’t expect another team to push Davidson like Appalachian St. did last season, but if Davidson gets lackadaisical or suffers a significant injury, we’d expect UNC-Greensboro to be next in line. Believe it or not, Curry didn’t win conference POY last year, and it’s not a sure thing that he will this year either. This is due to the fact that UNCG has a 6’6, 230 lb. Sir Charles clone named Kyle Hines returning in the post. Hines has scored in double figures in fifty straight games, and the last time a team went single coverage on him, he dropped 38 on their heads. Although #2 scorer Ricky Hickman is gone, UNCG returns a trio of talented sophomore wing scorers who all showed promise of bright futures. Appalachian St. is another team to watch despite losing three key seniors. The key is that two post men, Donte Minter (who should be healthy this year) and Jeremy Clayton, are returning, and in a league of little size, this could carry them a long way. One concern is the loss of heady PG DJ Thompson, who led the team’s uptempo attack, along with two other guards that saw significant time. Georgia Southern is another team on our radar, simply because they have an all-conference performer in the post (Louis Graham – #18 nationally in defReb%) and at the point guard position (Dwayne Foreman – #32 nationally in asstRate). And although College of Charleston lost three starters and a transfer from a 13-5 team, Bobby Cremins brought in the best recruiting class the league has seen in some time, and we should keep an eye on his team for that reason alone.

Games to Watch. The SoCon is going to a 20-game round robin conference schedule this season, which is the largest we’ve ever seen. Next year when the league expands to twelve teams with the addition of Samford, we suspect there will be a push by league coaches to return to a more reasonable sixteen game schedule. But for this year, it guarantees that Davidson will have to visit every road arena to test its mettle.

  • Davidson @ Appalachian St. (11.26.07) & Appalachian St. @ Davidson (02.27.08)
  • UNCG @ Appalachian St. (01.12.08) & Appalachian St. @ UNCG (02.16.08)
  • Davidson @ UNCG (02.13.08) & UNCG @ Davidson (02.19.08)
  • Southern Conference Championship Game (03.10.08) ESPN2

RPI Booster Games. We alluded to it above, but the SoCon went 5-38 (.118) against BCS teams last year (Appalachian St. – 2; Davidson – 1; Furman – 1; Wofford – 1). The number will be reduced this year, thanks to the additional conference games, but we expect a similar showing.

  • UNCG @ Georgia Tech (11.09.07)
  • Western Carolina @ Cincinnati (11.10.07)
  • Davidson vs. UNC (Charlotte) (11.14.07) ESPN
  • College of Charleston @ Arkansas (11.15.07) ESPNU
  • Chattanooga @ S. Illinois (11.22.07) ESPNU
  • Wichita St. @ Appalachian St. (11.28.07)
  • Davidson vs. Duke (Charlotte) (12.01.07) ESPNU
  • Tennessee @ Chattanooga (12.04.07) ESPNU
  • Davidson @ UCLA (12.08.07)
  • Georgia Southern @ Florida (12.15.07)
  • Western Carolina @ Illinois (12.17.07)

Odds of Multiple NCAA Bids. This one is interesting, because if Davidson performs well against the ACC trio + UCLA, has a great SoCon record (like 18-2), yet loses in the conference tourney, we believe that this will be a two-team league.

Neat-o Stat. The Citadel must be one of the most historically horrific basketball programs in the NCAA. It joined the Southern Conference in 1937, and has yet to see its first NCAA or NIT bid. Pat Conroy wrote of his losing season there in the 60s, and not much has changed since. His cousin, Ed Conroy, will begin his second season at the school with what he calls the youngest team in America – 15 freshmen (incl. redshirts), one sophomore, one junior and one senior. Good luck, Ed, you’re going to need it.

64/65-Team Era. The SoCon has been a one-bid league throughout this era, and it will probably remain so this year (unless Davidson lays an egg in the conference tourney). The conference record (3-23, .115) reflects the success of two Tennessee teams, one of which is no longer in the league. In 1992, #14 ETSU defeated #3 Arizona 87-80 in one of Lute Olson’s earlier tankjobs, and in 1997, #14 UT-Chattanooga went to the Sweet 16 by defeating #3 Georgia (the year prior to Tubby Smith winning the NCAA title at Kentucky) 73-70, and #6 Illinois 75-63. Since then the conference (as an average #13.6 seed) has lost ten straight first round games by an average of 13.0 pts – not too encouraging. Still, the last four years show improvement, as the league representative has only lost by an average of 9.8 pts. Below is a nice clip of Curry dropping three of his thirty against Maryland.

Final Thought. This league is all about Davidson this year. The MSM will remember the Wildcats’ performance against Maryland in the NCAA Tournament and pundits like Dickie V. will be touting Curry as a PTPer all season long. Even if Davidson merely pulls one upset against the four ranked teams it plays in the pre-conference schedule, that’ll be enough to entice everyone to claim it as their Cinderella come March. But there are other good teams in this conference, so Davidson shouldn’t be reading its press clippings too closely. Several other teams could surprise much as Davidson did last year, and the level of talent entering the league is rising. It should make for a very fun SoCon season this time around.

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