RTC Conference Primers: #15 – Southern Conference

Posted by rtmsf on October 21st, 2011

Will Rothschild is the RTC correspondent for the Southern and the Atlantic Sun conferences. He can be found on twitter @warothschild.

Reader’s Take I

Top Storylines

  • The Arrival of Adjehi Baru. The highest-rated prospect ever to choose the College of Charleston, Baru is a 6’9″ native of the Ivory Coast who picked the Cougars from a final group that included North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia Tech. Bobby Cremins has always been known as a great recruiter – if not exactly John Wooden on the bench – but this was clearly his biggest coup since he beat out North Carolina, Georgetown, St. John’s and Syracuse for Kenny Anderson back in 1988. Though Baru has only been playing basketball a short time and his offensive game is a major work in progress, he quickly established himself as a game-changer on the AAU circuit and shot up the recruiting rankings, eventually settling in as a consensus top-five center prospect. He will be an absolute load to deal with in the SoCon. After his eligibility was initially held up the NCAA Clearinghouse, he was cleared to play this season in early October.

Steward Will Be an Absolute Load in the SoCon

  • The Big Dogs Are Back: Will it be Davidson or Chattanooga?  The two most tradition-rich programs in the Southern Conference are back on top this season and appear head and shoulders above what otherwise looks to be a very balanced league. Each team returns four starters, top-notch point guards, and a nice blend of versatile wings and size in the post. They also have coaches – Bob McKillop at Davidson and John Shulman at Chattanooga – who know how to get a team through the SoCon tournament and into the Dance. Davidson will be looking for its 6th NCAA trip under McKillop and its 11th overall, but its first since the team that was a rimmed-out Jason Richards jumpshot from making it to the Final Four in 2008. Chattanooga is also after its 11th NCAA trip, its third in eight seasons under Shulman, and its first since 2009.
  • How Far Will Wofford Fall?  After two straight Southern Conference championships and NCAA Tournament bids (in which they lost first-round games to Wisconsin and BYU by a combined 12 points), the consensus is Wofford won’t be much of a threat in 2011-12. Coach Mike Young, who has turned down a couple of overtures from other schools the past two springs, watched five of the most celebrated players in program history graduate in May. But even with POY Noah Dahlman, the two title teams were more a testament to Young and his staff’s ability to bring the right kind of players to Wofford, one of the most challenging liberal arts colleges in the South. Indeed, those teams always had a sum-is-better-then-their-parts ethos about them. Meanwhile, Young and his staff are excited about their past two recruiting classes, including a freshman group seven strong. Expecting the Terriers to win 20 games for the third straight season isn’t realistic, but in his 10th season Young has this program rolling and stocked with young talent that will keep the Terriers from slipping very far down the standings.
  • Will Appalachian State be better WITHOUT Donald Sims?  While the 6’1″ Sims was a dominant scorer (21 PPG in 2010-11) he also dominated the basketball, and his teammates deferred too much at times to his one-on-one offensive ability. With the graduation of the school’s all-time leading scorer and 2010 SoCon POY, the sense around Boone is that Jason Capel’s second team will be much more balanced and difficult to defend. Omar Carter, a 6’5″ forward, is back after averaging 16.3 points and nearly 6 rebounds, and 6’10” center Isaac Butts returns after missing all of last season with an injury. As a junior in 2009-10, Butts averaged 8.5 points and 8.1 rebounds, and he makes Appalachian one of the few teams in the league with someone to physically match up with Baru. Capel also welcome a pair JUCO transfers – Rodney Milum, a 6’0″ guard from Houston, and Jamaal Trice, a 6’6″ forward from L.A. – who are expected to step in and contribute immediately.

Predicted Order of Finish

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SoCon Wrap & Tourney Preview

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 4th, 2011

Clark Williams is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference, bringing you up to speed, with the SoCon Tournament tipping off Friday.

Postseason Preview

 

College of Charleston remains the favorite to win the SoCon tournament, but Wofford and Furman are able candidates as well. I see Davidson as a possible darkhorse team, with the Paladins also having an outside chance. Here are my predictions:

Friday, March 4:

  • Davidson over UNC-Greensboro
  • Appalachian State over Georgia Southern
  • Furman over Samford
  • Elon over The Citadel

Saturday, March 5:

  • Davidson over Western Carolina
  • Wofford overAppalachian State
  • Furman over Chattanooga
  • College of Charleston over Elon

Sunday March 6:

  • Wofford over Appalachian State
  • College of Charleston over Furman

Monday, March 7:

  • College of Charleston over Furman

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The Other 26: Week 15

Posted by KDoyle on February 26th, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.

Introduction

And down the stretch they come! Just like a commentator of a competitive horse race fervently belches when the horses make the final turn, college basketball commentators, analysts, and enthusiasts alike all speak of the game with greater eagerness and zeal at this time of the year. Judgment Week—still am not sure what ESPN is trying to do with this—has passed us, Championship Week is nearly upon us, and we all know what comes after that: the Madness!

While the majority of Other 26 teams around the country still have one or two remaining games left in the regular season, there are a handful of teams out there who have completed the second part of their season. Many coaches, especially those coaching in perennial single bid leagues, break down their year into three seasons: 1) the non-conference, 2) conference play, 3) the postseason. The opportunity is presented for many teams that have struggled during much of the season to get hot at the right time and advance onto the greatest postseason tournament in all of sports.

At the beginning of conference play, I wrote in a previous article the concept of “three games in March” which is often the mentality of teams from smaller conferences who have to win three games, or four in some cases, to advance to the Dance—it is their only way in. Well, here is that opportunity.

The conference tournaments will officially begin in the middle of next week with a few of the smaller conferences going at it. If one really wants to get technical though, the argument can be made that the Ivy League has a season-long conference tournament that commences at the beginning of league play.

The Other 26 Rankings

Tidbits from the Rankings

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Checking in on… the SoCon

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 23rd, 2011

Clark Williams is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference

[Ed. Note – the following piece was written in advance of Saturday’s action.]

A Look Back

As the weather warms, so too does the race for the SoCon conference championship. Andrew Goudelock and the Cougars of College of Charleston still remain the favorite, but four teams are within three games of the Cougars, and with two weeks left, nothing is certain. UNC-Greensboro is continuing its rise out of the cellar, and has boosted their conference win total to five. This wouldn’t be noteworthy, however, if the Spartans hadn’t taken two months to win their first game. While the Spartans are enjoying their rise to mediocrity, Georgia Southern is still waiting for the first conference win.  Standing at 4-24 for the season, only one of the Eagles’ season victories have come against a Division-1 opponent, and it took overtime to decide the outcome. The hottest team in the SoCon right now is the Catamounts of Western Carolina, who have won five straight, and continue to shoot up the standings, led by senior guard Mike Williams.

Power Rankings

1. College of Charleston (20-7, 13-2)- The Cougars have held this spot for about a month now, thanks in large part to their fantastic duo, Andrew Goudelock and Jasper Simmons. I fully expect the Cougars to be the #1 seed in the SoCon Tournament.

A Look Ahead: The Cougars play in the annual ESPN Brackerbusters game against Vermont, and then will host Samford. They finish the season with road games against Appalachian State and Western Carolina.

2. Furman (19-7, 11-4)- The Paladins continue to look up to the Cougars, and down on everybody else. That being said, the Paladins have proved that when do-it-all forward Amu Sakku plays well, they’re one of the toughest teams to beat in the conference.

A Look Ahead: The Paladins travel to Samford and Chattanooga, and will finish the regular season at home against Wofford, in a game that will potentially determine the #2 seed in the SoCon Tournament.

3. Western Carolina (14-13, 10-5)- As mentioned earlier, the Catamounts are the hottest team in the SoCon these days. Mike Williams continues to score (14.9 Points Per Game) and dish out the assists (3.8 per game).

A Look Ahead: Western Carolina will participate in the Bracketbuster games, against Eastern Kentucky. Then the Catamounts will travel to UNC-Greensboro. After that, the Catamounts will finish their season with home games against The Citadel and College of Charleston.

4. Wofford (15-12, 12-4)- The Terriers continue to tread water. They beat all the teams they are supposed to, but when big matchups against teams like College of Charleston and Furman, they Terriers falter. That being said, if the Terriers can win out, they’re looking at being the #2 seed in the conference tournament.

A Look Ahead: The Terriers will participate in the Bracketbuster games, squaring off against Ball State. They finish the regular season with road games against Chattanooga and Furman.

5Chattanooga (14-14, 10-5): If Western Carolina is the hottest team in the league, then the Mocs of Chattanooga are the coldest. Losers of their last four, the Mocs need Omar Wattad to get his scoring touch back; the junior forward has scored just fourteen points combined in his last two conference games.

A Look Ahead: The Mocs host Furman and Wofford, and then finish the season at Samford.

6. Davidson (14-13, 8-8): After four consecutive losses in late January, the Wildcats rattled off five wins in a row, and have won six of their last seven. Davidson has put up impressive rebounding numbers as well; they rank 90 in the nation in rebounds per game.

A Look Ahead: The Wildcats travel to Presbateryian College, then finish the season at home, against Elon and UNC-Greensboro.

7. Appalachian State (12-14, 8-8): The Mountaineers continue to be plagued by their low number of assists per game, 10.5, which ranks 321st in the nation. Donald Sims continues to carry the offensive load, with 21.2 points per game, with healthy contributions from Omar Carter, averaging 16.5 points per game.

A Look Ahead: Appalachian State will participate in Bracketbusters, squaring off against High Point. After that, it’s home games against College of Charleston and The Citadel.

8. UNC-Greensboro (5-20, 5-9): Ok, ok, the Spartans might not deserve this spot, but I’ll give it to them anyway, due to their impressive turnaround. The key to the Spartans recent success? Scoring. Preposterous, I know. The Spartans have score over 85 points in their last three wins.

A Look Ahead: The Spartans travel to Elon, then host Western Carolina. After that, it’s road games against Georgia Southern and Davidson. As crazy as it sounds, the once-winless Spartans have a chance to finish .500 in conference play.

9Elon (11-15, 5-10): Elon finally broke their five-game losing streak with their recent victory over The Citadel. Once considered a dark-horse contender for the conference title, the wheels have seemingly fallen of for the Phoenix.

A Look Ahead: Elon hosts UNC-Greensboro, and finish the season with road matches against Davidson and Georgia Southern.

10Samford (12-15, 4-11): The Bulldogs rank in the 300’s in both rebounding and scoring. Honestly, with those numbers, I’m surprised they have won twelve games all season.

A Look Ahead: Samford hosts Furman, then will travel to College of Charleston, and will finish the regular season with a home game against Chattanooga.

11. The Citadel (9-19, 5-10): Losers of their last six, the Bulldogs continue to freefall down the standings. Senior guard Cameron Wells continues to play stellar basketball, but isn’t getting much help from his teammates.

A Look Ahead: The Bulldogs finish the season with three consecutive road games, at Georgia Southern, Western Carolina, and Appalachian State.

12. Georgia Southern (4-24, 0-15): If nothing else, the Eagles are consistent. They have been ranked in the 12th spot just as long as College of Charleston has been ranked in the top spot. They continue to search for that elusive first conference win.

A Look Ahead: Georgia Southern will finish the season with three consecutive home games, against The Citadel, UNC-Greensboro, and Elon.

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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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Ten Tuesday Scribbles

Posted by zhayes9 on December 21st, 2010

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.

Self's next challenge: incorporating Josh Selby

– I’ve been taken aback by the number of analysts that believe Josh Selby is going to hurt Kansas, at least in the short term. While I understand that the college game is much more predicated on ball movement, teamwork and on-court chemistry than the next level, anyone that believes Selby throws a wrench into the Rock Chalk juggernaut is underestimating Bill Self’s coaching acumen, ignoring that the Jayhawks haven’t played like a well-oiled machine during all ten of their wins and are forgetting just how special Josh Selby is on a basketball court. Kansas doesn’t have a truly threatening foe on their slate until a month from now, January 17 at Baylor. This is plenty of time for the coaching genius of Self to integrate his star-studded freshman into the offensive flow. Every quote I’ve read from Selby shows he’s more than willing to play within Self’s halfcourt style- perimeter ball movement, high-low passing with their bigs and drive-and-kick action to their plethora of capable outside shooters, including Marcus Morris, whom Self insists the offense will still revolve around. Selby provides the Jayhawks with the type of player– a “pro” in scouting circles– that they need, someone who can rekindle a lost possession with seven seconds on the shot clock and find his own shot or draw a foul. Plus, Kansas has beaten Arizona by eight, UCLA by one, Memphis by 13 and USC by two in their stiffest tests to date. It’s not like Selby, the number one recruit in America per Rivals.com, is joining the 1990 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels.

- Re-watching the Syracuse-Michigan State game from the Jimmy V Classic, I was surprised at how the Spartans elected to defend a poor perimeter shooting team like the Orange. Kalin Lucas, Korie Lucious, Keith Appling and Durrell Summers often employed an aggressive defense against the Syracuse guards rather than electing to play softer and dare the Orange into shooting deep jumpers. The Orange are currently ranked a dismal 249th in the nation in three-point percentage at 31.2% with their biggest offenders being Scoop Jardine at 30%, Kris Joseph at 27% and Brandon Triche at 27%. Luckily for Jim Boeheim, and the main reason why his Orange boast an undefeated record heading into Christmas, is that their length and athleticism allows for a plethora of offensive rebounds on those misses and that 2-3 zone continues to be lethal. But there does appear to be a blueprint for dethroning the Orange: sag off their perimeter players like Jardine and Triche and defy them to jack up long threes rather than allow dribble penetration. This could turn into a fatal flaw come Big East play in a similar fashion to how Kentucky was defended for most of last season.

- All throughout the summer and into the preseason, I couldn’t escape the hype surrounding the SEC East. Florida returned all five starters from an NCAA Tournament team. Kentucky was reloading with another powerful John Calipari recruiting class. Georgia was the sleeper extraordinaire with two all-SEC caliber players. Tennessee and Vanderbilt returned enough talent to be formidable foes for the entire season. Some experts even had the SEC in the discussion with the Big 12 and Big East as the second best conference in the nation after the Big Ten, especially if Mississippi State incorporated Renardo Sidney and Dee Bost and another SEC West squad surprised the masses. As we sit here five days before Christmas, I can’t help but label the SEC as a major disappointment thus far in the 2010-11 campaign. In fact, I’d go as far as to say Vanderbilt may be the class of the lot. Tennessee has continued their bipolar ways of overachieving as a plucky underdog and folding their tent when expectations begin the mount, plainly evident by quality wins over Villanova and Pittsburgh followed by back-to-back losses to sneaky mid-major Oakland and a middling Atlantic 10 team in Charlotte. Kentucky has collected wins over Washington and Notre Dame, but obvious flaws at the point (Brandon Knight is more of a scoring off-guard) and a gaping hole at center leave the Wildcats young and vulnerable. Florida and Georgia are glaring examples of a lesson we should all learn: just because a team returns a large chunk of their talent, it doesn’t mean they’re going to dramatically improve. Finally, the SEC West has proven to be nothing short of a disaster site, with their six representatives already having suffered defeats at the hands of Iowa, Rutgers, South Florida, UAB, Dayton, East Tennessee State, Florida Atlantic, Coastal Carolina, Nicholls State, Saint Peter’s, UNC-Asheville, Samford, Jacksonville, Campbell and Presbyterian (to be fair, Auburn represents a healthy chunk of those truly embarrassing losses).

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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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RTC 2010-11 Impact Players – South Atlantic Region

Posted by rtmsf on October 11th, 2010

It’s October.  The leaves are starting to turn colors.  Halloween candy is already in the stores.  There have been a few nights where you may have even turned on the heat.  Midnight Madness is imminent and RTC is full bore into the 2010-11 Season Preview materials.  For the second October in a row, we’re bringing you our RTC Impact Players series.  The braintrust has gone back and forth on this and we’ve finally settled on a group of sixty players throughout ten geographic regions of the country (five starters plus a sixth man) to represent the who and where of players you should be watching this season.  Seriously, if you haven’t seen every one of these players ball at least once by the end of February, then you need to figure out a way to get a better television package.  As always in a subjective analysis such as this, some of our decisions were difficult; many others were quite easy.  What we can say without reservation is that there is great talent in every corner of this nation of ours, and we’ll do our best to excavate it over the next five weeks in this series that will publish on Mondays and Thursdays.  Each time, we’ll also provide a list of some of the near-misses as well as the players we considered in each region, but as always, we welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments.

You can find all previous RTC 2010-11 Impact Players posts here.

South Atlantic Region (VA, NC, SC)

  • Kyrie Irving – Fr, G – Duke. To get an idea how highly touted Kyrie Irving is, consider this: coming off a season where Duke won the national title and only lost one key playmaker on offense, most people believe that the Blue Devils will run their offense through the talented freshman from New Jersey who many recruiting experts rank among the best to ever come from the state that has produced so many great college players, including Duke legends Bobby Hurley and Jason Williams. His development during his sophomore year of high school when ESPN analysts stated that he “would be a top 300 player nationally in the 2010 class” and then said a few months later “could be an impact player in the Atlantic 10 or a high-major role player” to his senior year when he was a top five recruit (#1 according to some services) and those same recruiting analysts were stating “it will be shocking if he isn’t an all-conference performer and possible all-american his freshman season” portends the potential for his development into a truly special player. Irving is one of the rare players who arrives on campus with the ability to both score and distribute the ball to his teammates. After all the talk about how Coach K had lost his edge in recruiting, Irving might be his most dynamic recruit since Williams arrived in Durham back in 1999. Despite only being on campus for a few months, his Blue Devil teammates have probably already begun to appreciate his high basketball IQ, competitiveness, and all-around ability.  Even though many will question his inclusion on our Impact Player team over his more proven teammate Nolan Smith, Irving has demonstrated a skill set in high school that goes beyond what Smith has demonstrated even with three additional years of experience under the watchful eye of Coach K. If Irving is able to make a smooth transition from the high school game to the college game (and having Singler, Smith, Seth Curry, and the Plumlees around should help), his game could make the Blue Devils heavy favorites to repeat when March arrives. With Irving’s game we don’t think it will be question of if but rather when he feels truly comfortable at the college level, so all the Duke haters should be preparing for a long season ahead.

Kyrie Irving Could be the Best Duke Guard Since J-Will

  • Malcolm Delaney – Sr, G – Virginia Tech. If you’re a Hokies fan and a Twitter fiend, back on May 8th you were probably just a little surprised but very happy that Malcolm Delaney tweeted that he was going to put off NBA riches for a year and return to school for his senior season. Nobody, however, could have been happier than Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg. We shudder to think at the number of blood pressure medications that man must be taking these days, having seemingly been the victim of more last-second heartbreakers and burst NCAA Tournament bubbles (are we allowed to refer to “the bubble” in October?) than any one man should ever be expected to endure, but the return of Delaney to Blacksburg should have lowered Greenberg’s systolic by about 20 points. It probably went back up over the summer, though, after Greenberg lost two of his forwards for the season — specifically presumptive sixth man J.T. Thompson to a left ACL tear and Allan Chaney to viral myocarditis (a condition slightly less than 0.6% of all people in America have) — and has another one in Cadarian Raines recovering from surgery in March to repair a re-fractured left foot. The importance of Delaney, then, and the impact he’ll have in this geographical region become obvious. VT will have to go small, and that means more touches for Malcolm, who we’re guessing will have no problem taking on more responsibility in terms of both scoring and rebounding, and we’re saying this about the top scorer in the ACC last season (20.2 PPG). He played an average of 35.8 MPG last year (4th ACC, 58th nationally) and we wonder if he’ll even sit at all this season. Most importantly, if the Hokies are going to attempt to return to only their second NCAA Tournament in the last 15 years (and what would be Delaney’s first), Greenberg will be counting on emotional and vocal leadership on the floor and in the locker room from Delaney, his RTC South Atlantic Impact Player and ACC Player of the Year candidate.

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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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Checking in on… the SoCon

Posted by rtmsf on February 12th, 2010

Justin Glover is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.

Updated Standings

North
Appalachian St. 9-4 15-10
Western Carolina 8-5 18-7
Chattanooga 5-8 13-13
Samford 4-9 10-15
Elon 4-9 6-18
UNC Greensboro 4-9 5-19
South
College of Charleston 12-3 17-9
Wofford 10-3 18-8
Davidson 7-5 12-12
Citadel 7-6 13-12
Furman 5-8 11-13
Georgia Southern 3-9 6-19

Quick Hits.

  • Appalachian State has won two-straight conference games to take over first place in the North Division. Western Carolina has been reeling of late after losing on the road against Elon. WCU with the loss is now second in the division.
  • Georgia Southern is the most disappointing team to date with a dismal 3-9 conference record and 6-19 overall record. The Eagles have struggled on the road this season.

Sizzling Players. These top seven guys continue to lead the conference with their stellar play for their teams.

1. SIMS, Donald-ASU JR 22.6
2. GOUDELOCK, Andrew-COFC JR 20.5
3. WELLS, Cameron-CIT JR 18.4
4. DAHLMAN, Noah-WOF JR 17.1
5. SAAKA, Amu-FUR JR 16.2
6. POWERS, Willie-GSU JR 16.2
7. STYWALL, Ben-UNCG SR 15.7

Important Match-ups.

Sat, Feb 13 Appalachian St. Georgia Southern Boone, N.C. 3:00 p.m.
* Sat, Feb 13 Samford Wofford Birmingham, Ala. 3:00 p.m.
* Sat, Feb 13 Elon Citadel Elon, N.C. 6:00 p.m.
* Sat, Feb 13 Chattanooga Furman Chattanooga, Tenn. 7:30 p.m.
* Sat, Feb 13 Western Carolina Davidson Cullowhee, N.C. 7:00 p.m.
* Mon, Feb 15 UNC Greensboro Western Carolina Greensboro, N.C. 7:00 p.m.
* Wed, Feb 17 College of Charleston Appalachian St. Charleston, S.C. 7:00 p.m.
* Wed, Feb 17 Davidson Wofford Davidson, N.C. 7:00 p.m.
* Wed, Feb 17 Elon UNC Greensboro Elon, N.C. 7:00 p.m.

Key Results from last two weeks.

  • On Saturday Feb. 6th, Appalachian State went on the road and defeated Western Carolina, 89-77, to sweep the season series from the Catamounts. That win for the Mountaineers completely changes the Southern Conference and puts App. State in the drivers seat for the division title.
  • On Monday Feb. 8th, The Citadel went on the road and beat the College of Charleston, 72-65, which proved to be a nice win for the Bulldogs. The Cougars are trying to hold off a late rally by Wofford to claim the South Division title.
  • Also on Monday Feb. 8th, Western Carolina continued its poor showing on the road in 2010 by losing to Elon, 81-76. WCU with the loss now sits a full game behind the Mountaineers in the North Division title race.
  • Monday Feb. 8th continued to be a busy day for the Southern Conference as Wofford went on the road to defeat Furman, 76-65. Wofford improved to 10-3 in conference and continues to show that the Terriers could be a contender for the league title in the next couple of weeks.
  • On Feb. 11, the College of Charleston beat Elon, 80-77, after Donvan Monroe scored a career high 29 points to lead the Cougars to victory over the pesky Phoenix.
  • On the same night Appalachian State beat Davidson, 66-56 to sweep the season series from the Wildcats. The Mountaineers now control their own destiny in the North Division with the victory.
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Checking in on… the SoCon

Posted by jstevrtc on January 29th, 2010

Justin Glover is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.

Updated Standings:
NORTH    (CONF/OVER)

  1. Western Carolina     6-3    16-5
  2. Appalachian State   6-3    12-8
  3. Chattanooga              4-5    12-10
  4. UNC Greensboro      4-6    5-16
  5. Samford                       3-6    9-12
  6. Elon                               2-7    4-16

SOUTH    (CONF/ OVER)

  1. Charleston                  8-2    13-8
  2. Wofford                        6-3    14-8
  3. Davidson                     5-4    10-11
  4. Furman                        4-5    10-10
  5. Citadel                          4-5    10-11
  6. Georgia Southern     3-6    6-16

Quick Hits — Only half of the conference season has been played in the Southern Conference and we are starting to see which teams will contend for the championship come March. Four teams have clearly put themselves above the rest of the conference as WCU, Wofford, Charleston, and Appalachian State have emerged as the favorites to make the NCAA tournament. One of those teams should come away with the automatic bid. In the next couple of weeks the schedule puts most of the top teams against each other, providing for some very interesting scenarios.

Other Notes — It would take either Western Carolina or College of Charleston to both win out and make it to the SoCon finals for the league to earn two bids into the NCAA tournament. It doesn’t look like this is the year for the conference to have two teams for the first time.

Most Disappointing teams — Elon has only won two games in conference, but Samford has really been disappointing this season with its 3-6 record. The Bulldogs haven’t figured out how to win on the road.

Sizzling players — It’s all about the junior class. Seven juniors sit atop the statistics in PPG. Donald Sims from Appalachian State leads the SoCon with 19.4 PPG. Andrew Goudelock (CofC), Cameron Wells (Citadel), Noah Dahlman (Wofford), Amu Saaka (Furman), Willie Powers (Georgia Southern), and Jordan Miller (Furman) all averaging more than 14 PPG.

Upcoming Schedule/Important Match-ups:

  • Sat. Jan 30 — Furman @ Wofford.  Spartanburg, S.C. 3 p.m. – Tough road contest for Furman.
  • Thurs. Feb 4 — Chattanooga @ Charleston.  Charleston, S.C. 7 p.m. – Chattanooga looks to pull off another upset on the road.
  • Sat. Feb 6 — Appalachian State @ WCU.  Cullowhee, N.C. 7 p.m. – The Catamounts look for revenge at home.
  • Mon. Feb 8 — Citadel @ Charleston.  Charleston, S.C. 7 p.m. – In-state rivalry between the two schools.

Team Breakdowns:

  • Appalachian State (12-8): On January 28th Appalachian State won its second straight game after defeating Samford 68-55 on the road. With that victory, the Mountaineers are now tied atop the North Division standings at 6-3. Just four days earlier, Appalachian State defeated Western Carolina 87-74 at home thanks to 28 points from Donald Sims. The upcoming game against the Catamounts could determine the North Division winner, with both tied at 6-3 at the moment.
  • Chattanooga (12-10): The Mocs were on a four-game losing streak before defeating Western Carolina 80-67 on January 28th.  Ty Patterson led the way with 19 points in the victory and leads the team in scoring with 15.3 PPG. Recent road losses against Wofford (78-63) and Elon (83-80) have hurt Chattanooga in the standings. The Mocs still need to figure out how to get it done more often on the road.
  • College of Charleston (13-8): The Cougars were riding high with a seven game winning streak until Monday the 25th when Western Carolina ended the streak with a 100-90 victory at home. College of Charleston couldn’t bounce back on January 28th, losing again on the road against Davidson, 86-71. It will be interesting to see how the Cougars respond to this recent two game losing streak, which dropped them to 8-2 in conference.
  • Davidson (10-11): Two straight wins for the Wildcats puts their conference record at 5-4 heading into a key conference stretch. On January 23rd Davidson defeated Georgia Southern 91-87 on the road with J.P. Kuhlman scoring 18 points to pace the Wildcats.  Just five days later, Davidson overcame South Division leader Charleston, 86-61.  Will Archambault scored 24 points in the victory and grabbed five rebounds.
  • Elon (4-16): Elon recently ended a nine-game losing streak after defeating Chattanooga 83-80 at home on January 23rd. Drew Spradlin scored a season-high 30 points in the victory to end the losing streak for the Phoenix.  On January 28th Elon lost on the road against UNC-Greensboro 62-55 with Spradlin scoring 18 points in the loss.  The Phoenix haven’t won two straight games all season and came up just short against the Spartans.
  • Furman (10-10): The Paladins continue to impress at home with its 6-3 record but playing on the road has really hurt them. Furman’s record on the road is just 3-6; this will have to be rectified if they’re going to compete for the SoCon championship. On January 25th Furman defeated Samford 63-58 with Darryl Evans scoring 18 points in the victory.
  • Georgia Southern (6-16): The Eagles have been playing better recently, winning two of its last three conference games. Both of those wins came at home where Georgia Southern is 6-4 overall. The Eagles defeated the Citadel 61-58 on January 28th to run its SoCon record to 3-6.
  • Samford (9-12): The Bulldogs have lost two-straight games after losing to Appalachian State on January 28th, 68-55. Just three days earlier, Samford lost to Furman on the road, 63-58. Josh Davis leads the team in scoring at 11.7 PPG. The Bulldogs are just 3-6 on the road.
  • The Citadel (10-11): The Citadel has one of the top players in the Southern Conference in Cameron Wells. Wells is averaging 18 PPG but doesn’t get a whole lot of  help around him; if he did, you’d wonder if Citadel would have better than a 4-5 conference record. The Citadel defeated Furman at home 70-60 on January 23rd, but lost on the road against Georgia Southern 61-58 on Thursday night. The Bulldogs have yet to win two-straight conference games this season and are trying to stay competitive in the South Division.
  • UNC-Greensboro (5-16):  The Spartans have won two of their last three conference games to improve their record to 4-6 in conference. During UNC-Greensboro’s recent home stand, they defeated Chattanooga 62-49, and beat Elon 62-55 on Thursday night.
  • Western Carolina (16-5): The Catamounts have been perfect at home (11-0) including a huge victory against the College of Charleston, 100-90, on January 25th. Western Carolina’s losses have all been away from the Ramsey Center. This is a cause of concern for WCU, having recently fallen into a tie for first place in the North Division with Appalachian State. Western cannot expect to lose all of its road games and still claim the SoCon championship.
  • Wofford (14-8): The Terriers have been playing their best basketball of the season, led by junior Noah Dahlman. Dahlman has led the team in scoring in six straight games, and the team is 5-1 in those contests. Wofford’s only loss came against the College of Charleston 70-68 on the road. On January 25th the Terriers won 78-63 against Chattanooga; Dahlman led the way with 20 points, earning Wofford its sixth conference win.
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Checking in on… the SoCon

Posted by jstevrtc on January 15th, 2010

Justin Glover is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.

Updated Standings:

NORTH CONF. W-L OVERALL W-L
Western Carolina 3-1 13-3
Chattanooga 3-1 11-6
Appalachian State 3-2 9-7
UNC Greensboro 2-4 3-14
Samford 1-3 7-9
Elon 1-4 3-13
SOUTH CONF. W-L OVERALL W-L
Charleston 5-0 10-6
Wofford 3-2 11-7
Davidson 3-2 8-9
Furman 2-3 8-8
Citadel 2-3 8-9
Georgia Southern 1-4 4-14

Quick Hits – The Southern Conference is beginning to take shape after just two weeks into the “second half” of the 2009-10 college basketball season. The standings look awfully familiar to last season with the North led by a tie between Western Carolina (3-1) and Chattanooga (3-1). The South Division is being lead by the College of Charleston who has a perfect 5-0 conference record. The question that is starting to take shape around mid-majors is can the SoCon put two teams to the big dance this season? In my opinion, in order for the SoCon to have two invitations to March Madness the Catamounts would have to earn somewhere around 24-25 wins. The other half would be to have WCU face College of Charleston in the finals trying to convince the committee that wins on the road against Louisville & Bradley will be enough to get the Catamounts into the tournament if Charleston wins the SoCon tournament.

Other Notes — Don’t sleep on Wofford and Chattanooga who both have started to get hot in recent weeks. Wofford on a four-game winning streak and Chattanooga on a six-game winning streak.

Most Disappointing Teams — Now that Georgia Southern has gotten its first win in conference the Elon Phoenix are clearly the worst team in the Southern Conference so far this season. The Phoenix have been getting blown out almost every game and sit at just 3-13 overall.

Sizzling players — Appalachian State’s Donald Sims is playing his best basketball of the season after scoring 44 points against Davidson and has led the Mountaineers in scoring in ten games this season. Furman’s Amu Saaka has played well lately scoring 30+ in two straight games against conference opponents.

Important Upcoming Match-ups:

  • Sat. Jan 16thDavidson@Wofford, Spartanburg, S.C. 7 p.m. – Tough road match-up for a battle of 3-2 records in conference.
  • Wed Jan 20th - WCU@Davidson, Davidson, N.C. 7 p.m. – Western travels to Davidson looking to earn a solid road conference win.
  • Fri Jan 22nd –  Wofford@College of Charleston, Charleston, S.C. 7 p.m. – Wofford looks to take down the top team in the Southern Conference on the road.
  • Sat Jan 23rd –  WCU@Appalachian State, Boone, N.C. 3 p.m. – Old time rivalry between two teams that really don’t like each other should present a solid game in Boone.

Team Breakdowns:

  • Appalachian State (9-7): The Mountaineers have won two straight conference games earning them a 3-2 SoCon record. On January 9th Appalachian State won on the road against Davidson, 78-68, thanks to a stellar performance from Donald Sims who scored 44 points in the victory. On January 13th they defeated Elon 89-65 getting 20 points from Kellen Brand to lead the way.
  • Chattanooga (11-6): The Mocs are riding a six-game winning streak and a 3-1 SoCon record after defeating UNC-Greensboro 58-45 on January 11th thanks to 14 points from Ty Patterson. Chattanooga kept its winning streak in tact after Keegan Bell knocked down a huge three as time expired to shock the Citadel at home, 56-54, on January 14th. Bell finished the game with 11 points to lead the Mocs.
  • College of Charleston (10-6): The Cougars are also riding a nice four-game win streak thanks to two more conference victories this week. Two road wins for the College of Charleston improve its SoCon record to 5-0. The first was a win over the Citadel, 61-55, thanks to 22 points from Andrew Goudelock. The Cougars then beat Samford 78-67 on January 14th with Goudelock leading the way with 23 points.
  • Davidson (8-9): The Wildcats went 1-1 this past week losing at home to Appalachian State, 78-68, but earn a nice road win against Furman, 86-81, on January13th. Will Archambault scored 15 points in the victory. The Wildcats are still trying to find out its identity in the Southern Conference looking for that signature win.
  • Elon (3-13): The Phoenix are currently on a seven-game losing streak and only 1-4 in the SoCon. Elon was defeated by Wofford, 72-55, and lost to Appalachian State, 89-65, in the past week. Elon will be looking to break its losing streak in the upcoming weeks.
  • Furman (8-8): The Paladins have lost two-straight conference games to drop to 2-3 in the SoCon. Furman was defeated on January 9th against UNC-Greensboro, 88-78, but Amu Saaka scored 31 points in the loss. On January 13th Furman lost to Davidson 86-81 with Saaka getting 34 points in that loss.
  • Georgia Southern (4-14): The Eagles earned its first win in conference after defeating Western Carolina at home 81-76. Willie Powers lead the Eagles with 19 points in the victory. The win against the Catamounts stopped a nine-game losing streak for Georgia Southern. On January 14th the Eagles lost to Wofford 71-57 on the road to fall to 1-4 in the SoCon.
  • Samford (7-9): The Bulldogs went 1-1 last week earning a victory against Tennessee-Temple, 62-52, getting 19 points from Bryan Friday in the victory. On January 14th lost at home, 78-67, to the College of Charleston falling to 1-3 in the SoCon.
  • The Citadel (8-9): The Citadel lost two-straight conference games this past week losing to the College of Charleston at home, 61-55, and losing a heart-breaker against Chattanooga, 56-54, on a last second three pointer. The Citadel did get 28 points from Cameron Wells in the loss against the Mocs.
  • UNC-Greensboro (3-14): The Spartans went 1-2 in the past week ending the week by losing to Western Carolina 79-69 to fall to 2-4 in the SoCon. The Spartans started their week off well, defeating Furman 88-78 at home but fell to Chattanooga on January 11th 58-45 on the road getting 10 points by Brandon Evans in the loss.
  • Western Carolina (13-3): The Catamounts started the week with a tough road loss against Georgia Southern, 81-76, with Kendall Russell scoring 18 points in the loss. Western Carolina bounced back with a nice home victory over UNC-Greensboro 79-69 on January 14th.
  • Wofford (11-7): Wofford has won four straight games and three straight conference games to run its SoCon record to 3-2. On January 14th the Terriers defeated Georgia Southern 71-57 earning its eleventh win of the season. Two of the victories came on the road for Wofford at UNC-Greensboro on January 7th (79-62) and at Elon on January 9th (72-55).
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