Atlantic Sun Tournament PreviewPosted by EMoyer on February 29th, 2012
Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Sun Conference and Southern Conference and a contributor to the RTC SEC Microsite. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer.
- Belmont returns as the top seed for the third time in five years. As the top seed, the Bruins won the title in both 2008 and 2011.
- Belmont’s two wins as the top seed account for the only two times in the last 10 A-Sun Tournaments that the top seed has emerged as the victor.
- Belmont can break a tie with UCF for the most A-Sun Tournament titles. The Bruins and Golden Knights each own four titles. The Golden Knights won their fourth title in 2005, their last year in the A-Sun. This year is Belmont’s last in the conference.
- Belmont can join Louisiana-Monroe (1982), Georgia Southern (1992), College of Charleston (1998) and UCF (2005) as schools to win the A-Sun title in their last year in the league.
- For the third year in a row, Mercer and the University Center will serve as the tournament host. The Bears will look to end an 11-year drought for the host winning on its home floor. Georgia State (2001) was the last host to win the title. From 1979 to 2001, 11 of the 22 A-Sun Championships went to the host school.
- Mercer will hope the trend of #2 seeds winning the A-Sun Championship continues. Five of the last eight A-Sun Championships have been won by the #2 seed.
- Mercer’s Langston Hall paces the Bears in scoring at 11.3 points per game. No A-Sun champion since 1997 has featured a leading scorer averaging fewer than 12.2 points per game.
- In Belmont (24 wins), Mercer (21 wins) and USC Upstate (20 wins), this year’s A-Sun Championship is the first to feature three 20-win teams since 2003-04.
- USC Upstate’s breakthrough season resulted in Torrey Craig earning the league’s Player of the Year award. He will have to buck the trend of Players of the Year leading his team to the title. Only one A-Sun Player of the Year has led his team to A-Sun Tournament title since 2000 – Georgia State’s Shernard Long (2001).
- Both USC Upstate and FGCU will be making their first appearance in the A-Sun Tournament. None of the current A-Sun school won the tournament in its first appearance and only three (Kennesaw State, Mercer and Stetson) even won a game in its first appearance.
- ETSU owns the longest active streak of semifinal appearances (five). The Buccaneers last failed to make the A-Sun’s final four in 2006. Mercer (2010-2011) is the only other school with a streak greater than one.
- Buoyed by his 46-point effort on Feb. 20, North Florida’s Parker Smith finished the conference’s top scorer in February. He averaged 21.3 points and 4.9 3’s in seven games.
- Since the dismissal of Jordan Burgason in early February, new players have emerged for Lipscomb. Junior Deonte Alexander upped his scoring from 7.6 per game to 12.5 per game. Freshman Malcolm Smith increased his scoring from 9.3 points per game to 12.2 in his final six games.
- After five straight years as a top-3 seed, Jacksonville was able to secure its sixth-straight appearance only after Stetson lost on the final day of the regular season. The Dolphins have never beaten a higher seed in 12 prior appearances.
Team Tournament Capsules
- #1 Belmont: Championship Appearances: 11; Record 15-6; Best Finish: Champion – 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011; Last Season: Champion
- #2 Mercer: Championship Appearances: 28; Record 23-25; Best Finish: Champion – 1981, 1985; Last Season: L, Semifinals
- #3 USC Upstate: First Appearance
- #4 ETSU: Championship Appearances: 7; Record 10-4; Best Finish: Champion – 2009, 2010; Last Season: L, Semifinals
- #5 North Florida: Championship Appearances: 3; Record 2-2; Best Finish: Runner-up – 2011; Last Season: L, Final
- #6 FGCU: First Appearance
- #7 Lipscomb: Championship Appearances: 8; Record 4-7; Best Finish: Runner-up – 2006; Last Season: L, Quarterfinals
- #8 Jacksonville: Championship Appearances: 13; Record 5-12; Best Finish: Runner-up – 2008, 2009; Last Season: L, Quarterfinals
Tournament Schedule (All games played at University Center, Macon, GA)
- Wednesday, February 29, 2:30 ET: #1 Belmont vs #8 Jacksonville (ESPN3); Season Results: Jan. 4 (Belmont 75, at Jacksonville 63), Jan. 28 (at Belmont 85, Jacksonville 71); Series Record: Belmont, 15-6; Tournament Series Belmont, 1-0; #1 vs #8: 20-5
- Wednesday, February 29, 8:30 ET: #2 Mercer vs #7 Lipscomb (ESPN3); Season Results: Dec. 1 (Mercer 79, at Lipscomb 72), Feb. 23 (at Mercer 63, Lipscomb 54); Series Record: Lipscomb, 12-8; Tournament Series Lipscomb, 2-1; #2 vs #7: 24-4
- Thursday, March 1, 2:30 ET: #4 ETSU vs #5 North Florida (ESPN3); Season Results: Jan. 16 (ETSU 64, at North Florida 63), Feb. 11(at ETSU 65, North Florida 50); Series Record: Lipscomb, 12-8; Tournament Series Lipscomb, 2-1; #5 vs #4: 16-14
- Thursday, March 1, 8:30 ET: #3 USC Upstate vs #6 FGCU (ESPN3); Season Results: Dec. 19 (USC Upstate 80, at FGCU 75), Feb. 23 (at USC Upstate 87, FGCU 74); Series Record: ETSU, 13-1; Tournament Series: North Florida 1-0; #3 vs #6: 19-11
- Friday, March 2, 6:00 ET: #1/#8 Winner vs #4/#5 Winner (ESPN3)
- Friday, March 2, 8:30 ET: #2/#7 Winner vs #3/#6 Winner (ESPN3)
- Saturday, March 3, 7:00 ET: Semifinal Winners (ESPN2)