We’re in the midst of Championship Fortnight, so let’s gear up for the continuing action by breaking down each of the Other 26’s conference tournaments as they get under way.
Dates: March 6-9
Site: U.S. Cellular Center (Asheville, NC)
What to expect: Wofford has the conference’s best player – guard Karl Cochran – and lost just twice in league play, but watch out for Chattanooga. The Mocs exploited the Terriers’ lack of interior size in their first two meetings, including a 10-point road victory in February. If those two meet up in the title game, the regular season champs could have their hands full. Mercer is capable of emerging from the bottom half of the bracket and East Tennessee State can be dangerous if outside shots are falling (the Bucs attempt 25 three-pointers per game), but it’s hard to envision anyone besides Wofford or Chattanooga winning this event.
Favorite: Wofford. With Davidson no longer around, Wofford is in excellent position to reach its third NCAA Tournament since 2011 and establish itself as the conference’s premier program (if it hasn’t already). This year’s team – while undersized – locks down defensively and features good balance, with five players averaging between 7.7 and 15.0 points per game. In their upset victory at North Carolina State in December, the Terriers held the Wolfpack (a top-40 offense) to just 54 points on 0.90 points per possession.
Davidson has become synonymous with the Southern Conference over the last decade, and with good reason. Bob McKillop has built a mini mid-major power at the tiny, private, North Carolina liberal arts school, posting 13 straight winning records in the SoCon, most famously, of course, becoming a national name by going all the way to the Elite Eight in 2008, led by some kid named Stephen Curry. Whatever happened to that kid? Davidson used its success to parlay a move to the “greener” pastures of the Atlantic-10 before this season, but did you know the team that beat out Davidson for the SoCon’s NCAA bid in three of the last five seasons is still there? And that’s its coach has been on campus just as long as McKillop?
As noted by Forbes Magazine, Wofford coach Mike Young is one of the biggest bargains (salary wise) in Division I basketball. (Getty)
Mike Young came to then-Division II Wofford, another tiny, private liberal arts school in the Carolinas (Spartanburg, S.C.) in 1989 as an assistant and never left, spending 13 years as an assistant to Richard Johnson (who is currently athletics director at Wofford), before moving up to the head chair in 2002. It took a while — Wofford didn’t post a winning mark (overall or in the SoCon) until his seventh season — but the Terriers have now gone to the NCAA tournament three times in five years, and return a veteran team that was picked to make it four in six. With expectations come a little pressure for Wofford, but Young and his team have waited a long time for it, so it’s much better than the alternative. “I’ve been here 26 years now. It’s the most unique situation in the world. The only pressure I’ve ever felt is internal pressure,” Young said. “It’s an unbelievable situation because I have an opportunity to coach our team and do it the way I think the program should be run. That certainly gives you good peace of mind. There’s nothing wrong with a little expectation, I think it’s justified. I think it’s well earned. We have great depth.”
In Part II of our three-part series, we pass out 2013-14 superlatives to the best teams, performers and performances from eight different O26 conferences: CAA, Conference USA, MAC, MEAC, Missouri Valley, SoCon, Summit and WCC. In alphabetical order:
Colonial Athletic Association
The Blue Hens outworked the rest of the CAA for much of 2013-2014. (The Post and Courier)
Team of the Year – Delaware (22-9, 14-2). Not even early- and late-season suspensions of two of Delaware’s best players could stop the Blue Hens’ run to a CAA regular season title. Monte Ross’ up-tempo club raced off to an 11-0 start in conference play, amassing a large enough lead that preseason favorite Towson was never able to catch up.
Player of the Year – Jerelle Benimon – Towson. You want beastly numbers? How about these: In 32 games, the 6’8’’ Benimon averaged 18.9 points, 11.7 boards, 3.7 assists and 1.3 blocks per game, recorded an NCAA-best 20 double-doubles and reached the free throw line 258 times, good for sixth in the country.
Coach of the Year – Monté Ross – Delaware. Ross found a way to keep things together, to keep winning after guard Devon Saddler – the team’s leading scorer – missed seven games due to suspension early in the season and Jarvis Threatt – the team’s third-leading scorer – was suspended for the entire month of February.
Upset of the Year – Northeastern over Georgetown, 63-56. In the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, miles from Boston or Washington D.C., Scott Eatherton and the Huskies pounded Georgetown in the paint and pulled off an unexpected upset. Alas, it was another full month before Bill Coen’s bunch wound up back in the win column.
Championship Fortnight continues with two more conference tourneys tipping off today, so what better way to get you through the next week-plus of games than to break down each of the Other 26′s postseason events. Today, the CAA and SoCon get started.
Dates: March 7-10 Site: Asheville Civic Center (Asheville, N.C.)
What to expect: The Davidson Wildcats are looking for their third consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. Remember that these Wildcats blew a six-point lead in the final 70 seconds against Marquette last season in the first round of the Big Dance. Davidson ran through the SoCon with a 15-1 mark this year, leading the league in both offensive and defensive efficiency. For the kings of the Southern Conference, it’s Davidson’s automatic bid to lose in its final season before moving to the Atlantic 10 next year.
Favorite:Davidson. The Wildcats started out the season 4-10, falling to teams like Duke, Virginia and Wichita State along the way. Then league play began and Davidson ran roughshod over the rest of the conference like it always seems to do. The Wildcats have won 12 straight games, with only one of those coming by single digits.
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
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.
RTC’s Kevin Doyle, author of the weekly column, The Other 26, and the Patriot League Correspondent, will be providing conference tournament previews for all non-BCS conferences.
As we near the weekend, more of the higher profile Other 26 conferences are beginning their postseason tournaments. In the east, the CAA, MAAC, and Southern Conference all get going with matinee affairs between Georgia State and UNC-Wilmington in the CAA and UNC-Greensboro and Davidson in the SoCon. Out west, the West Coast Conference kicks off their first round in what looks to be a very competitive tournament with St. Mary’s recent struggles and the resurgence of Gonzaga.
Colonial Athletic Association
The Favorite: Behind Cam Long and Ryan Pearson, George Mason has dominated the CAA and is the clear favorite to win the league. Old Dominion will be a tough challenger for the Patriots though.
Dark Horse: There have been many instances throughout the year that Virginia Commonwealth looks to be just as good as George Mason, but ending the year losing four straight games in the CAA will not instill confidence in many people. The Rams’ ability and talent is clearly there, and if they can string some wins together they can win the CAA championship.
Who’s Hot: George Mason winning 14 straight CAA games makes them easily the hottest CAA team.
Player to Watch: One of the most decorated players in Hofstra basketball history, Charles Jenkins is the best player to don a CAA uniform this year. The senior from Queens, NY is averaging 23.2 points per game.
First-Round Upset: William & Mary over James Madison. After having a very successful 2009-10 season, the Tribe has largely struggled this year, but is entering the CAA tournament having win two of three games. They have also split the season series with JMU this season winning the last game 73-67 and losing the first one 84-79.
How’d They Fare?Old Dominion, as a #11 seed, defeated Notre Dame 51-50 and then fell to Baylor in the second round.
Interesting Fact: The last time the CAA sent two teams to the NCAA Tournament was in 2007 when Virginia Commonwealth and Old Dominion went; it appears as if the CAA will be a multi-bid conference this year.
RTC’s Kevin Doyle, author of the weekly column, The Other 26, and the Patriot League Correspondent, will be providing conference tournament previews for all non-BCS conferences.
Three more conferences get underway this evening with teams in the America East and NEC all gunning for the coveted automatic-bid to the Tournament, while the Missouri Valley is vying to send two teams to the Dance. Boston University is all of a sudden the favorite to win the America East with the uncertainty of Evan Fjeld‘s ankle, while Missouri State and Long Island are the favorites in their respective leagues. Something tells me though that the Wichita State Shockers will be looking for vengeance following their two losses to the Bears earlier this year.
The Favorite: Vermont appears to be the favorite, but a lot depends on the status of Evan Fjeld’s ankle that he injured in UVM’s final regular season game against Boston University. In what very well could be the America East championship game, BU went on to defeat the Catamounts in overtime. Allison Shepherd told John Fantino of the Burlington Free Press Blog that: “[Fjeld] is receiving daily care and treatment for the injury. We will have a better idea regarding his playing status for the upcoming America East tournament as the weekend approaches.” Something tells me that even if Fjeld and his ‘Stache are able to go, he will not be at 100%. I like Boston University.
Dark Horse: Behind senior Tim Ambrose, Albany is a team that has come on strong as of late and is capable of making a run in the A-East tournament. The Great Danes have won four straight to end the regular season, but getting by Stony Brook will be no easy task in the first round.
Who’s Hot: Boston University has not lost in February and is 8-0 during the month. They defeated Vermont to conclude the regular season and are flying high with John Holland—arguably the league’s best player—leading the way.
Player to Watch: John Holland has been a staple in BU’s rotation since the day he stepped on campus. The senior has averaged double-figures in scoring for all four years, and his 19.2 points a game this year is tops in the league.
First-Round Upset: Hartford over Maine. The Black Bears were an intriguing team and story to follow early on in the season. They beat a solid Penn State team and began league play with an 8-1 record, but since then they have fallen flat on their faces. Although their date with Hartford is technically not in the first round—the America East essentially has a play-in game between the #8 and #9 seeds to begin the tournament—fourth seeded Maine will have their hands full with Hartford who has already beaten them twice.
How’d They Fare? As a 16 seed last year, Vermont could not handle the athleticism or shooting ability of Syracuse as they lost 79-56.
Interesting Fact: Not an interesting fact, but simply one of my favorite NCAA Tournament highlights of all-time:
Easily the best part of the clip is Tom Brennan’s reaction after T.J. Sorrentine swishes home the three from about 35 feet away, and if you look even further past Brennan the reaction of the guys sitting on press row are priceless too. This is what makes March so Mad!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We asked the question in yesterday’s Morning Five, and today we got the answer — well, not really. New NCAA prez Mark Emmert simply said (despite the headline of the linked article) he’d reserve comment about tournament expansion until the current 68-team proposal is approved. That approval will likely come today, so we’ll be on the lookout for Emmert’s tabled comments on the matter, that’s for sure.
You won’t be hearing anything about PTPers or dipsy-doo-dunkeroos or the Bald Dome Index on any of the Turner stations when they start covering the NCAA Tournament. Dick Vitale has no interest in ditching his analyst’s seat in the studio at ESPN for a color commentating spot at Turner. No matter your opinion on his announcing style, you’ve got to hand it to the guy: his enthusiasm for this game is still unmatched, he’s still adored by coaches and players, and, considering he’d be 84 the next time he could possibly do color for an NCAA Tournament game at ESPN, his loyalty to his current employer is admirable.
C. J. Leslie has decided to stay at home and play for North Carolina State, disappointing reported fellow finalists Connecticut and Kentucky in doing so. Leslie, a 6’9 and 205-pound power forward, is ranked 11th in the ESPNU-100 list of high school seniors, and happy Wolfpack supporters are beaming about the prospects of how he’ll meld with point guard prospect Ryan Harrow, ranked at 39th in the same list. Add underrated 6’4 shooting guard Lorenzo Brown into the mix, and you’ve got an NC State squad that’s gong to be a lot of fun to watch next season.
Chuck Driesell has decided to bid a fond farewell to his assistant coaching position at Maryland to become the new boss at The Citadel. And if the last name and the Maryland ties didn’t clue you in…yes, it’s Lefty’s son. Despite a 20-13 (15-5) record in 2008-09, the Bulldogs slipped to 17-16 and 9-9 in a tougher-than-expected Southern Conference last season. After four years at the helm in Charleston, Ed Conroy now departs for Tulane, so it’s now on Driesell to lead The Citadel to their first-ever NCAA Tournament bid.
Very busy Saturday: Saturday, December 19 is one of the busiest days of the season for the Horizon League as eight of the 10 teams will be in action. The only teams not playing are Valparaiso and Loyola. Big games include Xavier at Butler, West Virginia at Cleveland State, and Youngstown State at Green Bay in a conference tilt. (…)
With the midway point of the season approaching, this conference is Oakland’s to lose now that ORU is on the injured reserve. Keep an eye on IUPUI, as they may make Oakland work for a championship. Everyone else is playing for fourth. (…)
Louisiana Tech continues to lead the league after posting a pair of victories. Utah State notched a pair of victories while Idaho narrowly escaped NAIA opponent Eastern Oregon. Hawai’i picked up a victory over visiting Chicago State to break over the .500 mark. In all, eight of the nine teams now stand at .500 or better with the lone outcast residing in Las Cruces, N.M. The league now sports a 48-35 record as the teams head down the final stretch towards conference play. (…)
There hasn’t been much action on the floor recently as the Ivy League geniuses are in the middle of final exams — but there was one huge move off the floor when Penn fired head coach Glen Miller after an 0-7 start. The firing has generated rare attention to the league from the national media, and most of it has been negative. Believe me, I understand why people are saying that the Ivy League should hold itself to higher standards. But after following the team closely for the last few years, I must say that I firmly believe Penn made the right decision. (…)
Early on in league play things are shaping up as expected but it is very early. The one mark that stands out is Iona at 0-2. The Gaels, off their win against Albany, are 5-2 out of conference with wins over Creighton ( in the Old Spice) and at Providence on their resume. They played both MAAC games at home but dropped meetings with St. Peter’s and Siena. (…)
Watching the hottest team in the SoCon live gives you a different perspective on how good this team really can be. Two days later they defeated Louisville on the road and ran their win streak to nine straight games thanks to 23 points from Mike Williams. In the college insider mid-major top 25 rankings the Catamounts are currently ranked 8th and are receiving votes in the national Top 25 poll. Keep a close eye on this team as they head on the road to play Clemson before Christmas. (…)
Justin Glover is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.
Western Carolina 2-0 / 10-1
Appalachian State 1-1 / 6-4
Samford 1-1 / 3-7
Elon 1-1 / 3-8
UNC Greensboro 1-1 / 2-6
Chattanooga 0-1 / 5-5
Charleston 3-0 / 5-3
Furman 1-1 / 5-3
Citadel 1-1 / 6-5
Davidson 1-1 / 3-7
Wofford 0-2 / 5-6
Georgia Southern 0-2 / 3-9
Quick Hits. After making a call to my old boss at Western Carolina I made the three-hour trip from Atlanta, GA, to Cullowhee, NC, to see this impressive Western Carolina team in person take on my alma mater, the Campbell Fighting Camels, on December 10th. Having previously covered both teams I knew this game was going to be a good one. Western Carolina can really shoot, hitting ten threes including four from its senior point guard Brigham Waginger. The one player who impressed me the most was junior-college transfer Mike Williams who the fans call “And One” because he makes a ton of lay-ups while getting fouled, as you’d guess. Williams was lightning quick and scored 16 off the bench to key the win for the Catamounts 66-59. Campbell ran a nice half-court trap that forced Western Carolina into 15 turnovers and Jonathan Rodriquez scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds but it wasn’t enough. Watching the hottest team in the SoCon live gives you a different perspective on how good this team really can be. Two days later they defeated Louisville on the road and ran their win streak to nine straight games thanks to 23 points from Mike Williams. In the college insider mid-major top 25 rankings the Catamounts are currently ranked 8th and are receiving votes in the national Top 25 poll. Keep a close eye on this team as they head on the road to play Clemson before Christmas.
Other Notes. College of Charleston is really coming on strong and showing why they are also a favorite to win the Southern Conference crown come March. Now 5-3 overall and starting 3-0 in conference has put the Cougars right where they want to be. With the non-conference schedule about to end, the conference season will really start to shape things as a whole proving what teams are looking to make a push come time for March Madness.
Most Disappointing Teams. In recent weeks the two biggest disappointments have been Georgia Southern who is now 3-9 and 0-2 in the conference. The Eagles have lost five straight games and are giving up 76 PPG, which doesn’t help. Also, Davidson has been hit by a tough opening schedule, as they are 3-7 overall and 1-1 in the conference. The Wildcats are trying to earn some non-conference wins in the upcoming weeks.
Sizzling players. There are three players who really have stood out this week with Donald Sims from Appalachian State third in the conference in scoring at 16.9 points per game. Andrew Goudelock from College of Charleston averaging 16.8 has really been scoring to help the Cougars open up 3-0 in conference play. Finally junior-college transfer Mike Williams from Western Carolina who is averging 10.7 points per game off the bench but dropped 23 points against Louisville in the upset.
Upcoming Important Match-ups:
Sat. Dec. 19 College of Charleston @ Clemson 7:30 p.m. – Another chance for a SoCon school to knock-off an ACC opponent.
Sat. Dec. 19 Wofford @ South Carolina 7:00 p.m. – Wofford looking for two wins against SEC opponents with Georgia being the first.
Tues. Dec. 22 Western Carolina @ Clemson 7:30 p.m. – A chance for the Catamounts to continue its winning streak against an ACC opponent.
Tues. Dec. 22 Georgia Southern @ Georgia State 7:30 p.m. – Two mid-majors renew its in-state rivalry.
Wed. Dec. 23 College of Charleston @ Hawaii 12:30 a.m. ESPN 2 – Christmas Tournament in Hawaii for CofC hoping to earn some wins for the SoCon.
Appalachian State (6-4). The Mountaineers continue to be a sneaky team with a 1-1 record in the SoCon after a key road win against Wofford, 77-76, with Donald Sims scoring 25 points. Appalachian State followed that up with a 113-91 victory against Milligan on December 17th. Donald Sims led the way with 23 points to run the win streak to two games.
Chattanooga (5-5). The Mocs have been in the middle of the pack in the SoCon but have dropped two of their last three games including a 19-point loss to Elon to fall to 0-1 in conference play. They responded with a 22-point win against Mississippi Valley State 82-60 on December 12th. On December 14th the Mocs lost to Georgia Tech 95-64 but Ty Patterson did have 22 points in the defeat.
College of Charleston (5-3). The Cougars have hit their stride putting together a 4-game winning streak in December winning three straight conference games to start 3-0. After beating Davidson 67-55 the Cougars followed it up with a tight road win against UNC-Greensboro 67-64 thanks to 28 points from junior Andrew Goudelock. On December 16th College of Charleston defeated Charleston Southern 87-74 for its fourth straight win.
Davidson (3-7). The Wildcats have struggled this season but also have played a strong schedule against some really good teams. Davidson lost to College of Charleston 67-55 to drop to 1-1 in conference play. On December 12th the Wildcats took on mid-major powerhouse Gonzaga on the road losing 103-91. Jake Cohen scored 16 points and has been coming on strong of late. On December 17th Davison defeated New Jersey 90-49 thanks to 23 points from Cohen.
Elon (3-8). Elon is sitting at 1-1 in the conference after a key victory against Chattanooga 82-63 on December 5th. The Phoenix traveled to Raleigh, N.C., to take on N.C. State and put a scare in the Wolfpack but fell in the end 79-76 getting 26 points from senior forward Adam Constantine. Elon had a four-point lead with four minutes to play but just couldn’t hold on.
Furman (5-3). The Paladins have only had two games in recent weeks both coming as losses with the first a tight 64-57 loss against Western Carolina. Junior Jordan Miller led the team in scoring with 15 points. Furman then traveled to Clemson on December 13th losing 82-53 with Miller scoring 11 points in the loss. The Paladins sit at 1-1 in conference play.
Georgia Southern (3-9). The Eagles have been struggling of late dropping three-straight non-conference games first at N.C. State 75-57 on December 12th and home against Coastal Carolina 69-58 on December 15th. Georgia Southern lost to Evansville 75-58 on December 17th with Willie Powers scoring 11 points in the loss. The Eagles are also 0-2 on the SoCon hoping to get back on track in the next coming weeks.
Samford (3-7). Samford has only played two games, going 1-1 in them. They defeated Spring Hill on December 12th 58-48 with Trey Montgomery scoring 12 points in the victory. Samford then traveled to in-state rival Alabama on December 16th losing 60-45 with Josh Davis scoring 13 points in the loss.
The Citadel (6-5). This is a very interesting team that loves to get up a lot of shots. They defeated Georgia Southern on December 5th 68-43 with Zach Urbanus scoring 20 points. After watching the Michigan State game on ESPNU, you could tell this team could present some problems to other SoCon teams in the future. The Bulldogs lost 69-56 to the Spartans but were within single digits a couple of times in the game as Cameron Wells scored 16 points in the loss. Also the Citadel hosted Michigan State in that game and really gave the Spartans a scare.
UNC-Greensboro (2-6). UNCG has started conference play at 1-1 right in the middle of the pack but has lost two-straight games against College of Charleston 67-64 and Princeton 65-50 on December 13 with Ben Stywall scoring 14 points in the loss.
Western Carolina (10-1). The Catamounts are clearly the hottest team in the SoCon and could make the argument for one of the top mid-majors at the moment. They are riding a nine-game winning streak that includes some impressive victories. First, Western Carolina defeated Furman 64-57 to open up 2-0 in conference play. Then the Catamounts defeated a solid Bradley team on the road, 75-67, on December 7th. On December 10th they kept the winning streak going against Campbell 66-59 thanks to 16 points from Mike Williams. Western Carolina finished the run by going on the road and stunning Louisville 91-83 thanks to 24 points off the bench from Mike Williams, who earned SoCon player of the week thanks to that performance.
Wofford (5-6). The Terriers have lost two of its last three games and started 0-2 in the conference by only a combined six points. The second loss came to Appalachian State 77-76 at home with Noah Dahlman scoring 25 points in the loss. Wofford then lost 73-62 to Navy on December 12th. Dahlman (18.3 ppg) has been unreal this season leading the team in scoring eight out of the first 11 games this year.