The Other 26: Week 13

Posted by KDoyle on February 11th, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.

Introduction

In last week’s article I touched on the notion of parity and how great it is within the world of sports. After analyzing many of the Other 26 conferences this week, I could not help but notice how in several of the conference there is not one team that has distinguished themselves from the pack yet, and we are already nearing mid-February. In some cases, there are not even two or three teams that are running away with the league. Competitiveness or mediocrity? Well, does it really matter? All this means is that conference tournament week becomes that much more unpredictable and exciting. Here are a few of the conferences that are still completely wide open:

  • Atlantic 10: Four teams—Xavier, Duquesne, Temple, and Richmond—have records between 8-2 and 8-1.
  • CAA: Four teams—George Mason, Virginia Commonwealth, Old Dominion, and Hofstra—have records between 12-2 and 10-4.
  • The A10 and CAA are both very similar as each have four teams in legitimate contention, and both appear to be two-bid leagues at the moment.
  • Conference USA: Six teams—UTEP, Southern Mississippi, UAB, Memphis, SMU, and Tulsa—have records between 6-2 and 7-3.
  • Horizon League: Five teams—Valparaiso, Cleveland State, Wright State, Butler, and Wisconsin Milwaukee—have records between 10-3 and 9-5.
  • MAC: Eight teams—Kent State, Buffalo, Miami (OH), Bowling Green, Akron, Ohio, Ball State, and Western Michigan—have records between 7-2 and 5-4.
  • Southern Conference: Four teams—Charleston, Furman, Wofford, and Chattanooga—have records between 11-2 and 10-3.
  • Southland Conference: Nine teams—Northwestern State, McNeese State, Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls State, Texas State, Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State, UTSA, and Texas Arlington—have records between 7-3 and 5-4.

Very elaborate, I know. But, it is pretty remarkable the balance in the leagues. Of these seven conferences, there are a total of 40 teams who can still say they are capable and have a legit shot at winning their conference. What does this all mean? A great week of basketball during the conference tournaments, followed by more weeks of deliciousness during the NCAA Tournament. Enjoy.

The Other 26 Rankings

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Flu Bug Causes Postponement Of WCU vs UTC

Posted by jstevrtc on February 10th, 2011

Are you going to the Western Carolina vs Chattanooga game tonight?

No, you’re not. Come back on Valentines’ Day, and bring the Purel.

The Southern Conference announced yesterday that Thursday’s game between the Mocs and Catamounts has been postponed because of a flu outbreak on the Chattanooga squad. Four players have tested positive for the disease, and two others are feeling lousy and waiting on results. Because of this team-demic and one player who was to serve a suspension on Thursday night, the Mocs would have been down to just five players.

Keegan Bell Leads the Mocs In Assists, But We Hope Nothing Is Passed To or From Him Over the Next Few Days -- Get Better, Fellas!

The plan is for the sick players to be quarantined for 48 hours and then reevaluated, and the game is rescheduled for February 14th at WCU. Yes, four days from now. Now, we’re not infectious disease experts around here, but it would seem to us that, depending on when some of those six Mocs got sick (Chattanooga lists 12 players on its roster), even if they’re feeling better, they still might be ill or at least shedding virus and therefore able to infect anyone close to them. But the conference must go on, and while UTC (14-11, 10-3, 2nd) has all but secured itself a sweet seed in the upcoming SoCon Tournament, WCU (11-13, 7-5, 5th) needs every win in order to separate itself from a group of teams in the middle of the pack. So the game will be played this Monday, and the ailing Mocs will be pushing the fluids, covering their coughs, and washing their hands like crazy between now and then. Feel better, guys.

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Checking in on… the SoCon

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 30th, 2011

Clark Williams is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.

A Look Back

Greetings, fellow SoCon hoops lovers. Let’s jump right into it. All season long, UNC-Greensboro has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Not only had they lost every game, but they were getting run off the court. Nothing was working for them. Two weeks ago, they were at the bottom of my power rankings, and were receiving national media attention for being one of the two remaining zero-win teams in DI hoops. Since then, they have won three out of their last four, with their lone loss coming against first place Chattanooga in double-overtime. Needless to say, I’m excited to see how the rest of their season plays out. College of Charleston is still rolling, especially as Andrew Goudelock continues his offensive domination, averaging 23.6 points per game. Also, Jeremy Simmons’ contributions shall not be overlooked; Jeremy is averaging 13.7 points and pulling 6.4 rebounds per game. Georgia Southern has replaced UNC-Greensboro as the conference bottom-dweller. The Eagles have yet to win a conference game, and things aren’t looking good. The silver lining is freshman guard Eric Ferguson, who is wasting no time becoming comfortable in the college basketball world. He is averaging 13.7 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game, and almost two steals per game.

Power Rankings

1. College of Charleston (15-7, 8-2)- The Cougars continue to be the SoCon team to beat. Their first conference loss came at the hands of Chattanooga, in a 91-88 thriller. Saturday’s slip-up against lowly Davidson is an unsightly blemish, but the Cougars should be fine as Andrew Goudelock continues to look like the SoCon POY.

A Look Ahead- The Cougars are in Charleston for home games against Wofford and Furman, two games that won’t disappoint.

2. Wofford (12-10, 9-2)- Winners of six of their last seven, the Terriers seem to have finally pieced it together, thanks in large part to Noah Dahlman, who is averaging 20 points per game.

A Look Ahead- The Terriers travel to College of Charleston (a SoCon must-watch) and The Citadel.

3. Furman (16-6, 8-3)- The Paladins’ offense was seemingly coming together quite nicely until they squared off against Western Carolina, and managed only 16 points in the first half of their loss. Amu Saaka continues to fill out the stat sheet, averaging 16.7 points and 6.3 rebounds.

A Look Ahead- Furman takes to the road for showdowns against The Citadel and College of Charleston, the latter of which will be a crucial conference clash.

4. Chattanooga (12-10, 9-2)- Chattanooga, at times, has looked like the most talented team in the SoCon. Just ask College of Charleston. Other times, however, their play has left us all scratching our heads, like last week’s 88-56 loss to Wofford, or their 85-59 loss at Furman. If the Mocs are for real, they need to prove they can hang with fellow conference leaders.

A Look Ahead- The Mocs host Georgia Southern in a big showdown Thursday, especially with a four-game road trip coming up.

5. Western Carolina (9-12, 5-4)- It looked like the Catamounts’ rollercoaster season had taken another turn for the worse when they lost big to The Citadel and College of Charleston. Then, they got a much-needed victory over Furman, and are back in the conference race. Sometimes, all it takes is one big victory. Freshman guard Trey Sumler continues to look more and more comfortable out on the court.

A Look Ahead- Western Carolina will travel to Wofford and Elon, then host UNC-Greensboro, Chattanooga and Samford in a three-game homestretch.

6. The Citadel– (9-13, 5-5)- While the Bulldogs are on a roll, winners of their last four games, it might be too little, too late. The Bulldogs started 2011 with five consecutive losses. If they want to stay in contention for the conference title, they need this winning string to extend.

A Look Ahead- The Citadel will host Furman and Wofford, and then will travel to face the resurgent Spartans of UNC-Greensboro.

7. Elon (10-12, 4-7)- The Phoenix are having no trouble scoring, averaging 75 points per game, thanks in large part to the guard play of Chris Long and Drew Spradlin. Defense was the culprit in Saturday’s 85-76 loss at Chattanooga.

A Look Ahead- Elon hosts Western Carolina, Appalachian State, and College of Charleston after having played five of seven on the road.

8. Appalachian State (8-13, 4-7)- Once considered a likely candidate for the conference crown, Appalachian State has fallen hard, losing six of their last seven. On the bright side, Donald Sims continues to impress at 21 points per game. If there is one player who can challenge Andrew Goudelock for SoCon Player of the Year, it’s him.

A Look Ahead- Things won’t get any easier for the Mountaineers, as they play a pair away from home against UNC-Greensboro, and Elon.

9. UNC-Greensboro (4-16, 4-6)- Break up the Spartans! Ok, ok, they probably don’t deserve to be ranked this high, but I couldn’t resist. In earlier posts, I touted UNC-Greensboro as arguably the worst team in college hoops, so consider this my crow-filled meal. What is the method to UNC-Greensboro’s recent success, you ask? Scoring. Crazy, I know. In winning four of five, the Spartans scored over 70 points for the first time since November 14.

A Look Ahead- The Spartans will host Appalachian State and then hit the road again, traveling to Western Carolina.

10. Samford (11-11, 3-7)- The Bulldogs rank 317th nationally in points per game, and 343rd in rebounds per game. With these numbers, it’s rather impressive they’ve won 11 games already. Jeffrey Merritt is the only player averaging more than ten points per game.

A Look Ahead- The Bulldogs will host Davidson, then hit a three-game road trip, traveling to Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, and Western Carolina.

11. Davidson (9-12, 3-7)- At the end of 2010, Davidson had a winning record, and only one conference loss. Since the new-year has begun, the Wildcats are 1-8, their lone win coming against Furman.

A Look Ahead- Davidson will pay a visit to Georgia Southern for a battle of the conference bottom-dwellers.

12. Georgia Southern (4-18, 0-9)- Thanks to UNC-Greensboro’s “turnaround,” we have a new #12. Georgia Southern’s pitiful rebounding, which ranks 314th in the nation, continues to be their downfall, as they have yet to win a conference game. Eric Ferguson, however, is wasting no time with his transition into college basketball. The freshman is averaging almost 30 minutes per game, and dropping 13.7 points per game.

A Look Ahead- Davidson, Chattanooga, and Samford are next on tap for GSU.

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The Other 26: Week 11

Posted by KDoyle on January 28th, 2011

Introduction

We are just about halfway through the conference schedules and the true contenders are beginning to reveal themselves, while the pretenders are wallowing away after deceiving the country for so many weeks. Take a team like Central Florida, for instance. They looked like a legitimate top 25 team and a definite candidate for an at-large berth after breezing through the non-conference with an unblemished record, but their 1-5 record in Conference USA makes that great run in the non-conference all for naught. Conversely, take a gander at Duquesne. The Dukes went a modest 8-5 in the non-conference with losses to Robert Morris and George Mason, but have gone onto take the Atlantic 10 by storm. Suffice to say, it is hard to gauge just how good some teams are based solely on the non-conference. Some coaches will elect to challenge their team by scheduling a tough OOC schedule, while others will stockpile a bunch of cupcakes to pick up easy wins. The distinction between the pretenders and contenders will continue to be illuminated all the way up until the conference tournaments. Up until then, we sit and watch teams rise above expectations heading into conference play and watch others flounder.

The Other 26 Rankings

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ATB: Zags Seem Wobbly While Washington Does Not

Posted by rtmsf on January 21st, 2011

The Lede.  To give you a sense of what tonight’s basketball landscape looked like, it was a Pac-10 game that commanded the most national attention.  A lot of games out there, but few that were all that interesting.  Still, it’s our job to find those nuggets, so here goes…

Santa Clara's RTC Was Delayed by the Players' RTCrowd (h/t DLeung)

Your Watercooler MomentGonzaga in Trouble.  Hear us out, first.  We’ve seen Gonzaga play at least a half-dozen times or more this season, and the excuses made for Elias Harris’ injury notwithstanding, we’re still waiting to be impressed.  Tonight’s loss at Santa Clara where Kevin Foster went all kinds of crazy for a career-high 36 points did not help Gonzaga’s standing in our eyes.  Given that this was their first true conference road game and SCU isn’t very good, we’re starting to wonder if Mark Few’s team could be on the verge of a giant letdown this year — yes, to the point where the Zags don’t even make the NCAA Tournament.  Consider that coming into tonight’s game, GU was #46 and Pomeroy has them at #36, neither spots what you would call in the true safety zone for an NCAA bid; then, also consider that we think the Zags are looking at one, possibly even two, losses to St. Mary’s in addition to whomever else rises up to defeat them on the road this year (USF again?  LMU?  Portland?).  Another problem is the non-conference schedule — in a different year, wins over Baylor, Xavier, Oklahoma State, Wake Forest and (projected) Memphis would be more meaningful than they are this season.  The Zags’ only true quality win this year was way back in November over Marquette at the CBE Classic.  Pomeroy projects Gonzaga to go 12-2 in the WCC this year, which means a single loss more at St. Mary’s, but frankly, we think they have a few more stinkers left in their queue this season.  Call us crazy, but we think there’s a better-than-even chance that the mainstay program from Spokane will be sweating bullets come Selection Sunday this year.

Tonight’s Quick Hits….

  • Isaiah Thomas’ Slide Save Into the Tunnel.  After this season is completed and in the books, if there’s a single play that will define the success that Washington enjoyed, it will be the incredible dive and save behind his back that Isaiah Thomas made in the second half of tonight’s game against Arizona that resulted in his body sliding at least twenty feet into the corner of the arena as well as a bucket on the other end for his team off the break.  It was one of the most fantastic hustle plays we’ve ever seen in the collegiate game, and needless to say, we’ve logged quite a few hours over the years.  The play epitomized why this Washington team has a chance to do something special this year — since Abdul Gaddy’s ACL injury, Thomas has stepped into the point guard role assiduously, upping his scoring to just over 20 PPG and his assists to over 9 APG, including double figure dimes in his last two games.  The guy is simply giving an all-out effort each night and, as Sean Miller said after the game, Thomas should be getting more credit for his play than he is getting.
  • Klay Thompson’s Near Trip-Dub.  Washington State’s Klay Thompson was all over the place in the Cougars’ win over struggling Arizona State tonight.  The 6’6 junior is no stranger to filling up the stat sheet, but this evening’s performance was particularly exceptional.  Not only did he shoot his way to 22 points, but he also grabbed eight rebounds, dished out nine assists, ripped three steals, blocked a couple of shots and committed four fouls just for good measure.  The assist total tied a season high while the rebound total was two off, but it was the closest he’s gotten this season to an elusive triple-double.  With Reggie Moore back tonight, we still believe that Wazzu is one of the better teams in the Pac-10, but they have some work cut out for them to catch cross-state rival Washington.
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ATB: Kemba Is For Closers

Posted by rtmsf on January 18th, 2011

Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.  — MLK, 1963

The Lede.  We hope everyone had a brilliant MLK Day Weekend.  We know that you had a great MLK Day with the great hoops on all afternoon, culminating in two top ten matchups between Big East teams (aren’t all 16 Big East teams in the top ten?).  Hopefully you were off work to enjoy it, but if you weren’t, let’s get you caught up.

Walker is Big Time in the Clutch (H-C/J. Woike)

Your Watercooler MomentKemba Is For Closers. We still don’t really believe that UConn is a legitimate Final Four contender (which you are, by definition, as a top ten team), but we will say this without reservation.  If UConn can keep itself within reach at the five-minute point of the game, they are capable of beating anybody and have the best closer in college basketball.  You can have Jared Sullinger, Jimmer Fredette, Nolan Smith or whoever else you want — we’ll take Kemba.  His ability to use the dribble to create space for himself and get off clean and makeable looks sets him apart from all of the others, and essentially gives Jim Calhoun an x-factor that no other team can counter.  Witness Jay Wright’s comments after the game — Villanova knew Walker was going to get the ball for the final shot, sent two men at him, so he simply split them anyway en route to hitting a ridiculously tough game-winning floater in the lane with two seconds left. Walker didn’t even enjoy the biggest game (that belonged to Corey Fisher and his 28 points and six assists), nor did he look dominant as he bricked his way to a 6-18 shooting afternoon, but when the outcome is on the line he’s proven again and again that he’s up to the task.  We said this repeatedly back in Maui two months ago, but it’s worth noting that as talented as Walker is and has performed this season, the success of the Huskies will ultimately depend on the support he receives.  Alex Oriakhi has played like a man possessed in the four games since his donut performance against Notre Dame, averaging 14/13 and providing great interior defense so that his team will be in the game until the end for Walker to do his magic.  So long as he plays at a similar level, Jim Calhoun will continue to snicker at all of his naysayers, and deservedly so.

Pitt's Retro Media Guide Cover (h/t Luke Winn)

Your Watercooler Moment, Pt. TwoSyracuse Drops From the Unbeatens. It was expected once Syracuse declared that starting forward and leading scorer Kris Joseph would be held out of tonight’s game against Pittsburgh due to a nasty knock on the head he suffered on Saturday, but the way in which it happened was still surprising.  For a while, it appeared that Jim Boeheim’s team must have left their entire offense back home as Syracuse’s defense faltered early, allowing Pittsburgh to run out to a quick 19-0 lead in front of a raucous crowd at the Peterson Events Center.  Then, just as quickly as they got down, Cuse battled back with a 17-0 run of its own.  We’re not sure we’ve ever seen a game start like that before, but nevertheless, it portended what would become a close game the rest of the way.  The difference was that Pittsburgh was simply better — they said they’d been practicing for a few days against a zone, and it showed in their execution (1.08 PPP was the third-best performance against the zone this year).  Time and time again the Panthers moved the ball inside-out to find the open shooter on the perimeter or found success pounding the ball down low to Nasir Robinson (21/7).  With the win, Pitt moves to the top of the line in the Big East with a flawless 6-0 record.  With upcoming games vs. DePaul, Notre Dame, Rutgers and Cincinnati in the next four, the Panthers look very good for heading into mid-February with a 10-0 conference record.

Tonight’s Quick Hits

  • The Ginormous MLK Monday.  All four of today’s games were great matchups on paper and we hope that ESPN keeps this up in future seasons.  There’s just something always a little cool about daytime basketball on a weekday — a little like you’re getting away with something by watching it.  The two Big East games ended up better than the Big 12 games, but we loved every bit of it.
  • The Morris Twins.  It’s like these two boys connected by genes suddenly decided to become grown men in the last two weeks.  After tonight’s combined 44/14, Marcus is averaging 24/13 in the last four games while brother Markieff is contributing 14/10 during the same period.  With point guard Josh Selby still struggling to adjust to the world of elite college basketball, it’s been the Morris twins who have pulled the Jayhawks through a series of recent close games against Michigan, Iowa State and Nebraska.  This buys Bill Self some time while his young but talented quarterback continues to develop over the next six weeks prior to March.
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Checking in on… the Southland

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 16th, 2011

Clark Williams is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

 

A Look Back

Howdy, hoop fans. I hope everyone is staying warm. The SoCon itself is beginning to heat up, as conference play is well underway. College of Charleston made national headlines after upsetting Tennessee on the Vols’ home court on New Years Eve.  The Cougars have continued their strong play with huge road victories against then-conference leaders Furman and Wofford. The Spartans of UNC-Greensboro have also been gaining national attention, although for all the wrong reasons. The hapless Spartans have still yet to win a game, and they are running out of time. They will square off against fellow bottom-dweller Georgia Southern on January 20; this is seemingly their best chance to end their winless streak. Andrew Goudelock of College of Charleston has continued his dominant play, averaging 23.1 PPG, eighth best in the nation.

Power Rankings

1. College of Charleston (11-5, 4-0)- The Cougars have been on fire recently, and are proving to be the strongest team in the conference. Behind Andrew Goudelock’s and Jeremey Simmons’ offensive production, the Cougars look to be the team to beat in the SoCon.

A Look Ahead- The Cougars host The Citadel on Saturday. After that, they’re off to Chattanooga, for a huge road game against Mocs. This game could determine who has sole-possession of first place in the SoCon.

2. Chattanooga (8-8, 4-0)- I’m still not really sure what to think about the Mocs. On one hand, they’re tied for first place in the SoCon, and have yet to lose in conference play. Their only impressive conference win was against Appalachian State, however, while the rest have been close victories against conference bottom-dwellers. Their success so far can be attributed to their phenomenal rebounding. The Mocs rank 12th in the nation in rebounds per game, with 41.1.

A Look Ahead- The next few weeks will determine if Chattanooga is a contender or pretender. A home game against College of Charleston, and road games against Wofford and Furman await the Mocs.

3. Wofford (7-9, 4-1)- The Terriers have one conference loss, and if it weren’t for Goudelock, they probably wouldn’t have any. But close doesn’t count in college hoops (just ask Gordon Hayward). The Terriers still have been impressive in conference play thus far, and are averaging a hefty 15.4 assists per game.

A Look Ahead- The Terriers will travel to North Carolina for a game against Davidson, then back to Spartanburg for three consecutive home games. This home stretch will be a golden opportunity for the Terriers to propel themselves to the top of the conference.

4. Furman (11-5, 3-2)- While the loss against Davidson was frustrating (the Paladins have now lost to College of Charleston 11 times in a row), the Paladins are still in position to win the SoCon. Consistency will be the key for Furman; they are 3-2 in their last five games, after not losing from November 28 to December 29.

A Look Ahead- The Paladins will travel to play the hapless Georgia Southern Eagles, and then square off against Samford and Chattanooga at home. If Furman can win these games, they will solidify themselves as legitimate conference contenders.

5. Appalachian State (7-7, 3-1)- Perhaps the Mountaineers were visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve, because they have not lost since. Senior guard Donald Sims continues to be the focal point of the dangerous Mountaineer offense, as he’s averaging 21.6 points per game.

A Look Ahead- After hosting the winless Spartans of UNC-Greensboro, the Mountaineers will travel to face Western Carolina, followed by another home game against The Citadel.

6. Davidson (8-8, 2-3)- After losing three in a row, the Wildcats continued their recent dominance over Furman with a 79-70 victory. This victory was desperately needed, as Davidson was in danger of losing three conference games in a row.

A Look Ahead- Davidson hosts the Terriers of Wofford on the 15th, and then road games at UNC-Greensboro and Elon. If Davidson wants to get back to the top of the standings, it needs to play well on the road, something they haven’t done well all year.

7. Samford (10-6, 2-2)- Looking at the statistics only, it’s amazing the Bulldogs have ten wins. They rank 301st in points per game, and 338th in rebounds per game. Fortunately for Samford, games aren’t played on paper.

A Look Ahead- Samford plays three of their next four on the road, with games at Chattanooga, Furman, and Wofford. If the Bulldogs want to last against these talented teams, they need to start scoring. Easier said then done.

8. Western Carolina (6-10, 2-2)- No one welcomed January more than Western Carolina did, after they lost every game in December. The calendar change apparently did them some good, as they’ve are undefeated in January thus far.

A Look Ahead- The Catamounts will host Appalachian State, then travel to College of Charleston and The Citadel. Wouldn’t it be something if they won every game in January, after losing every game in December? If you’re nodding yes, you’re right. But that was a rhetorical question.

9. Elon (8-8, 2-3) – After a tough start to the year, including two early conference loses, the Phoenix seem to be getting the hang of it. Elon recently earned road wins against Navy and Columbia, and was able to stay competitive against ACC foe North Carolina State.

A Look Ahead- The Phoenix will travel visit the Mountaineers of Appalachian State, then host Davidson and Georgia Southern.

10. The Citadel (5-11, 1-3)- The Bulldogs’ in-state road trip didn’t go so well, as they lost at Clemson, Wofford, and Furman. Offense has plagued the Bulldogs, as they rank 312th in points per game, and 300th in field goal percentage.

A Look Ahead- The Bulldogs host Chattanooga then hit the road again with games at College of Charleston and Samford.

11. Georgia Southern (4-14, 0-5)- The Eagles have defeated just one D-I team all year, and it took overtime to do so. This team is just plain bad, especially when it comes to rebounding, where they ranked 305th in the nation in rebounds per game. Don’t be fooled by the four wins, this team could easily be ranked below UNC-Greensboro.

A Look Ahead- The Eagles host Furman then travel to UNC-Greensboro, for the battle of the SoCon bottom-dwellers.

12. UNC-Greensboro (0-15, 0-5)- I’d say the record speaks for itself. The Spartans have yet to win a game, and if they don’t do so against Georgia Southern, I’m not sure they will all year. That being said, we are all cheering for you, UNC-Greensboro. Nobody deserves to lose every game.

A Look Ahead- The Spartans will travel to Appalachian State, and then host Davidson and Georgia Southern. Circle the Georgia Southern-UNC-Greensboro game on your calendar; it’s going to be a dandy.

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Checking in on… the SoCon

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 2nd, 2011

RTC welcomes Clark Williams, our new Southern Conference correspondent.

[ed. note: this post was written prior to Friday/Saturday games]

A Look Back

I hope everybody had quite the festive and merry holiday. Let’s talk SoCon basketball, shall we? Furman’s month-long win streak has come to an end, after the Paladins fell to the Golden Knights of UCF on Wednesday in the first round of the UCF Holiday Classic. Also on Wednesday, Georgia Southern came back from a 27-point halftime deficit and nearly upset the Auburn Tigers, but eventually fell 88-84 in overtime. I realize Auburn is one of the worst power-conference teams out there, but it’s always nice to see the SoCon bottom dwellers keep up with the SEC bottom dwellers. The cold streak continues for UNC-Greensboro, as the Spartans’ record fell to 0-12 after Duke demolished them, 108-62, in Greensboro. The game was the highest-attended athletic event in school history, with a crowd of 22, 178.

Power Rankings

1. Furman (8-3, 2-0) – Despite their five-game winning streak coming to an end, the Paladins possess the top spot. They are undefeated in conference play, and easily defeated South Carolina last Wednesday, something they have not done since 1980.

A Look Ahead – The Paladins continue playing in the UCF Holiday Classic, and take on the Huskies of Northeastern on Thursday night.  Then, a warm-up game against NAIA foe UVA-Wise, which will be the Paladins’ last non-conference game of the year. On January 6, Furman will square off against College of Charleston, with whom they currently share first place.

2. College of Charleston (8-4, 2-0) – The Cougars earned the number two spot, after nearly defeating the Tigers of Clemson last Wednesday. Charleston hasn’t played since. Andrew Goudelock continues to impress; the senior guard is averaging 23.4 points per game.

A Look Ahead – The Cougars will be on ESPN on New Year’s Eve, as they take on the Volunteers of Tennessee, in Knoxville. Then, a game at Morehead State, followed by a conference clash at Furman on January 6.

3. Wofford (5-7, 2-0) – A popular preseason pick to win the SoCon, the Terriers have struggled at times this season. However, they seem to be more talented then their record indicates. They have played a combined five overtime periods already, and have taken on six power conference teams, playing all of them relatively close.

A Look Ahead – The Terriers play their last non-conference game against Cornell on Thursday night, then have conference foes Citadel and College of Charleston at home. Wofford needs to make a statement in both of those games, if they really are the team pundits believed them to be at the beginning of the year.

4. Chattanooga (7-6, 3-0) – The Mocs are the sole possessors of first place in the North division of the SoCon. What has impressed me the most about the Mocs so far is their rebounding ability — Chattanooga ranks #23 in the nation in rebounds per game with the amount of assists they’ve racked up.  Still, it’s hard to tell what this team will be like in February and March. The Mocs’ last two opponents have been NAIA teams, and they have not played a D-1 team since December 17.

A Look Ahead – Chattanooga has Georgia State on December 30, in-state rival Austin Peay on January 3, and then squares off against the winless Spartans of UNC-Greensboro on January 8.

5. Davidson (6-5, 1-1)- The Wildcats are getting better by the day. Since their December 2 conference loss to College of Charleston, Davidson is 3-1. They easily defeated The Citadel, Charlotte, and Saint Francis (NY), and nearly beat Saint John’s.

A Look Ahead – Davidson travels to Nashville to take on a talented Vanderbilt team on January 2.  Then, it’s a duo of in-state rivalry games, as the Wildcats host Appalachian State, then travel to play Western Carolina.

6. Samford (8-5, 1-1) – The Bulldogs continue to be plagued by a lethargic offense, as Creighton easily defeated the Bulldogs, 58-40 on December 22. This marks the fourth game the Bulldogs were held to less than 60 points. Their rebounding has been no better, and ranks 333rd in the nation in rebounds per game. Samford has, however, been able to move the ball around very well. Four players are averaging more than eight points per game.

A Look Ahead – Samford has a New Year’s Eve date with Eastern Michigan, then hits the road for three consecutive conference road games. First up is UNC-Greensboro, then Elon, and then Chattanooga.

7. Appalachian State (4-7, 1-1) – The Mountaineers continue to get fantastic play from senior guard Donald Sims, who is averaging 22.4 points per game, and forward Omar Carter, who is averaging 15 points per game. Unfortunately, his stellar play has not translated into victories. Appalachian State has struggled as of late- they have lost their last three games by a combined score of 42.

A Look Ahead – The Mountaineers will take on the Wildcats of Davidson on January 5. Then, it’s Georgia Southern, followed by UNC-Greensboro.

8. The Citadel (4-8, 1-1) – The Bulldogs haven’t played since the December 23, when they lost to SIU-Edwardsville, a recent addition to D-1 basketball. The Citadel has managed to play well in games against fellow mid-majors, but has been absolutely destroyed against any higher competition. They lost by 42 to Richmond, 28 to Colorado, and 26 to New Mexico.

A Look Ahead – The Citadel starts the New Year with four tough road trips in South Carolina. The Bulldogs will play at Clemson, then Wofford, then Furman, and will finish at College of Charleston. If the Bulldogs want to stay competitive in conference play, they need to win at least one of these games.

9. Elon (5-7, 0-2) The Phoenix of Elon are doing a fine job putting points on the point, as they rank 55th in the nation in points per game. However, their talented offense hasn’t been able to compensate for their lack of defense of rebounding. Elon has been the cupcake of choice for the ACC thus far, and haven’t been completely embarrassed in games against Wake Forest, Maryland and Duke. Hopefully, the experience from these games will help them find their own winning ways.

A Look Ahead – The Phoenix will travel to New York City for a game against Columbia, then will face off against another ACC foe, NC State. Elon will resume conference play at UNC-Greensboro, on January 10.

10.  Georgia Southern (4-10, 0-2) – The Eagles finally got their first victory over a D-1 opponent, beating Georgia State in overtime, on December 22. The “momentum” created by this victory carried over to their next game, as they overcame a 27-point halftime deficit at Auburn to force overtime, where they eventually fell.  Freshman guard Eric Ferguson is wasting no time making his presence felt. He is averaging 14.4 points per game, and 6.4 rebounds.

A Look Ahead – The Eagles will start 2011 with home games against Eastern Kentucky and Western Carolina, and then travel to Appalachian State. The Eagles are the only team in the South division of the SoCon without a conference win. If the Eagles have any shot at turning this thing around, this trend must end, and quickly.

11. Western Carolina (4-10, 0-2)- Things are not getting any easier for the Catamounts. Western Carolina has dropped their last six games, and hasn’t won since late November. The strangest part of their winless December? The Catamounts lost to the Fighting Camels of Campbell by 23, but only lost to #2 Ohio State by 15.

A Look Ahead – The Catamounts will travel to Georgia Southern, then host Davidson, Elon, and Appalachian State. Here’s hoping their January goes better than their December.

12. Ah, the loathed 12th spot. This is reserved for the hapless Spartans of UNC-Greensboro, a team still searching for its first victory. In their defense, the Spartans have played a brutal schedule, and seem to be getting better each game. Before the Duke disaster, the Spartans played Wake Forest, Clemson, and Richmond, losing by ten or fewer in each game.

A Look Ahead – It doesn’t get any easier for the Spartans, as they resume conference play. They host Samford on January 6, and continue their search for that elusive first win. Home games against Chattanooga and Elon follow.

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RTC Conference Primers: #16 – Southern Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 20th, 2010

Justin Glover is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference, but he is moving on and therefore we are seeking a skilled, knowledgeable writer familiar with this conference.


Predicted Order of Finish

North Division:

  1. Appalachian State: 21-11 (13-5)
  2. Chattanooga: 17-14 (11-7)
  3. Western Carolina: 16-15 (9-9)
  4. Samford: 14-18 (9-9)
  5. UNC Greensboro: 9-23 (7-11)
  6. Elon: 8-23 (5-13)

South Division:

  1. Wofford: 25-10 (14-4)
  2. College of Charleston: 21-13 (13-5)
  3. Furman: 17-15 (10-8)
  4. Davidson: 16-17 (8-10)
  5. Georgia Southern: 13-19 (6-12)
  6. Citadel: 10-21 (3-15)

All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)

  • Andrew Goudelock (G) – College of Charleston (19.4 PPG)
  • Donald Sims (G) – Appalachian State (20.4 PPG)
  • Amu Saaka (F) – Furman (15.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG)
  • Tim Johnson (F) – Wofford (6.1 PPG, 8.0 RPG)
  • Noah Dahlman (C) – Wofford (16.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG)

6th Man

Omar Carter – Appalachian State: The Charleston Southern transfer will look to contribute early on as a junior. While in the Big South, he was freshman of the year in 2007-08.

Impact Newcomer

James Carlton – College of Charleston:  One of the top prospects out of the state of North Carolina, Carlton played in the 2010 NCCA East-West All-Star Game and Carolinas All-Star Basketball Classic. Carlton averaged 15 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and four blocks per game as a senior at South Central High School and is rated as a three-star power forward by Rivals.

Wofford head coach Mike Young has his Terriers on a mission in 2010-11.

What You Need to Know

  • Not surprisingly, the losses of Stephen Curry and Andrew Lovedale from Davidson led to a slide from the Wildcats, who made major strides under Bob McKillop in the latter part of the decade.
  • All 24 men’s and women’s teams will take part in the annual SoCon Tournament, the longest-running conference tournament in the nation.  McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will serve as host during March 3-7.
  • The Southern Conference ranks as the fourth oldest major college athletic conference in the United States. Only the Big Ten (1896), Missouri Valley (1907), and Southwestern Athletic (1920) are older.
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Summer School in the SoCon

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 30th, 2010

Justin Glover is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.

Mike Young's Terriers Look to Lead the SoCon Again

Around The SoCon

  • Former Citadel coach Ed Conroy moves on to coach Tulane University. The Bulldogs hired former Maryland assistant coach Chuck Driesell, who was with the Terps for four seasons under head coach Gary Williams.
  • The Mountaineers hired former UNC star forward Jason Capel, who becomes the youngest head coach in Division I at 30 years old, to replace Buzz Peterson, who departs for UNC-Wilmington.
  • The Georgia Southern Eagles made a splash in its recruiting class coming in, ranking sixth among mid-major programs, according to ESPN.com.
  • Asheville, North Carolina, has been awarded the league’s men’s and women’s basketball tournament for 2012-14, to be held in the Asheville Civic Center, just a stone’s throw away from the Western Carolina campus. The facility will undergo a considerable renovation to prepare for the event.

Power Rankings

The Southern Conference will likely be a one-bid league in 2010-11, but the recent NCAA tournament expansion will certainly add motivation for teams on the rise to perform. With the return of forward Noah Dahlman (16.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG last season), Wofford is the early favorite to repeat as SoCon champs next season.

North Division

  1. Western Carolina – The Catamounts lost some very good talent from a team that won 22 games in 2009-10, including an impressive 14-2 home record. WCU lost its top two scorers in Brandon Giles and Jake Robinson, but return former freshman of the year Harouna Mutombo. Also, the Catamounts bring back spark plug Mike Williams, who contributed 9.4 points off the bench last season. Starting center Richie Gordon returns after posting 8.5 ppg and 4.6 rebounds per game last season. WCU welcomes four newcomers, including 6’4 guard Brandon Boggs, from Greenville, South Carolina. Boggs averaged 16 PPG in his senior season, earning him a spot on the South Carolina all-star team. Boggs scored a game-high 24 points in the contest.
  2. Appalachian State – The Mountaineers lost Buzz Peterson to UNC-Wilmington and welcome a new era with Jason Capel, who becomes the nation’s youngest head coach heading into the 2010-11 season. ASU won an impressive 24 games en route to the North Division crown last season. To repeat as champs, they are going to need Donald Sims to perform at a level similar to last season, when he averaged 20.4 points per game and was a sure thing from the stripe, with a league-leading 95 percent. Also returning is Isaac Butts, who led the team in rebounding, grabbing 8.1 rebounds per game last season. Two newcomers for the Mountaineers are Anthony Breeze, who transferred from Coastal Carolina last season, and Omar Carter, who transferred from Charleston Southern.
  3. Chattanooga – The Mocs have three starters returning from a team that went 15-18 last season. Chattanooga went 6-12 in conference play, tying UNC-Greensboro for third in the north division. Rising junior guard Ricky Taylor returns after putting up 11.4 points per game in 2009-2010. Keegan Bell, who averaged 7.6 points per game last season, is another starter from a year ago. Together, Taylor and Bell will look to provide the Mocs with a 1-2 punch in the backcourt. Three newcomers round out the roster, including some size in the frontcourt in Philip Jurick, who stands 6’11 and played at Chattanooga State Community College last season.
  4. Samford – The Bulldogs head into 2010-11 returning three starters from last year’s team, including leading scorer Josh Davis, who averaged 12.5 points per game and netted a team-high 85 three pointers. Also returning is starting center Andy King, who posted 6.6 points per game last season. The Bulldogs struggled on the road last season, going 4-10 away from Birmingham, and the team hopes that more veteran leadership will change their fate this season. Three newcomers will join the squad, including two in the frontcourt in Levi Barnes (6’10) and Drew Windler (6’9). Guard Greg Wooten rounds out the recruiting class for Samford.
  5. UNC-Greensboro – The Spartans return rising sophomore Kyle Randall, who was second on the team in points per game with 9.5. Also returning is fellow guard Brandon Evans, who averaged 8.5 points per game last season. The Spartans had a tough non-conference slate containing six ACC opponents, which contributed to a 2-11 record before conference play started. While overmatched in most of those contests, they hung around with Virginia Tech until late in the game Six of those losses came at home. Three newcomers join the team this season in Aaron Brackett, David Williams, and Aloysius Henry, who hopes to contribute right away.
  6. Elon – The Phoenix return their leading scorer in Drew Spradlin, who averaged 13.3 points per game last season as a sophomore. Also returning is starting guard Chris Long, who posted 9.9 points per game in his junior season. Sixth man Terrance Birdette returns as well, after scoring 6.8 points per game and seeing court time in all 32 games last season. There are five newcomers who join the Phoenix hoops squad in 2010. Incoming freshmen include Ryley Beaumont, Jack Isenbarger, Sebastian Koch, Lucas Troutman. Sophomore transfer Egheosa Edomwonyi from Rice will be a part of Elon’s quest for a Southern Conference championship. Isenbarger was a McDonalds All-American nominee and could be the prize in the recruiting class.

South Division

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Southern Conference Tournament Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 4th, 2010

Justin Glover is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.

Southern Conference Championship- Predictions

First/Second Rounds

March 5

(3S) Davidson vs. (6N) Elon – Davidson has had a better year than what people expected after losing Stephen Curry to the NBA draft. The Wildcats should win by double digits against a bad Elon team.

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Checking in on… the SoCon

Posted by rtmsf on February 27th, 2010

Justin Glover is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.

Updated Standings

NORTH CONF. W-L OVERALL W-L
Appalachian State 12-5 19-11
Western Carolina 10-7 20-10
Chattanooga 6-11 14-16
Samford 5-12 11-18
UNC Greensboro 5-12 6-22
Elon 5-12 8-21
SOUTH CONF. W-L OVERALL W-L
Wofford 14-3 22-8
Charleston 13-4 19-10
Davidson 10-7 15-14
Citadel 9-8 15-14
Furman 7-10 13-15
Georgia Southern 6-11 9-21

Quick Hits – With the Southern Conference season ending on Saturday it looks like the conference champions of their respective divisions are clinched. Congratulations to Appalachian State (12-5) for winning the North division thanks to a season sweep against Western Carolina this season. Also the Wofford Terriers for winning the South division with a solid 14-3 conference record. The Terriers clinched the division title on Thursday night with a 74-68 win at home. The conference tournament starts on March 4-8, being played in Charlotte, N.C., at the Time Warner Cable arena. In my opinion four teams still have a chance to be dancing in March with Wofford (14-3), Appalachian State (12-5), Western Carolina (10-7), and College of Charleston (13-4).

Conference Tournament Champion prediction: College of Charleston – I believe they will avenge their losses to Wofford and Western Carolina by defeating the Catamounts in the SoCon championship to head to the NCAA tournament. With the way the Cougars can move the ball around the perimeter I believe they will cut down the nets in Charlotte.

Predicting Post-season Awards:

Player of the Year: Donald Sims (Appalachian State) 20.1 points per game, leads the conference in 3 pointers made (90), free throw percentage (.948) 146-154 missed eight free throws all year.

Coach of the Year: Buzz Peterson (Appalachian State) 19-11 overall, 12-5 SoCon

Freshman of the Year: Jake Cohen (Davidson) 13.1 points per game

1st Team all-SoCon

  • Donald Sims- Appalachian State 20.1 ppg
  • Andrew Goudelock- College of Charleston 19.2 ppg
  • Cameron Wells- Citadel 17.4 ppg
  • Noah Dahlman- Wofford 17.4 ppg
  • Amu Saaka – Furman 16.1 ppg 7.1 rpg

2nd Team all-SoCon

  • Ben Stywall- UNC Greensboro
  • Jordan Miller- Furman
  • Brandon Giles- Western Carolina
  • Willie Powers- Georgia Southern
  • Drew Spradlin- Elon

Final Games remaining:

  • February 27th – Samford @ Appalachian St. 3 p.m.
  • February 27th – Citadel @ Wofford 7 p.m.
  • February 27th – College of Charleston @ Furman 4 p.m.
  • February 27th – Davidson @ Elon 7 p.m.
  • February 27th – Chattanooga @ Western Carolina 3 p.m.
  • March 1st – Georgia Southern @ UNC Greensboro 7 p.m.
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