Clark Williams is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.
A Look Back
Howdy, hoop fans. I hope everyone is staying warm. The SoCon itself is beginning to heat up, as conference play is well underway. College of Charleston made national headlines after upsetting Tennessee on the Vols’ home court on New Years Eve. The Cougars have continued their strong play with huge road victories against then-conference leaders Furman and Wofford. The Spartans of UNC-Greensboro have also been gaining national attention, although for all the wrong reasons. The hapless Spartans have still yet to win a game, and they are running out of time. They will square off against fellow bottom-dweller Georgia Southern on January 20; this is seemingly their best chance to end their winless streak. Andrew Goudelock of College of Charleston has continued his dominant play, averaging 23.1 PPG, eighth best in the nation.
1. College of Charleston (11-5, 4-0)- The Cougars have been on fire recently, and are proving to be the strongest team in the conference. Behind Andrew Goudelock’s and Jeremey Simmons’ offensive production, the Cougars look to be the team to beat in the SoCon.
A Look Ahead- The Cougars host The Citadel on Saturday. After that, they’re off to Chattanooga, for a huge road game against Mocs. This game could determine who has sole-possession of first place in the SoCon.
2. Chattanooga (8-8, 4-0)- I’m still not really sure what to think about the Mocs. On one hand, they’re tied for first place in the SoCon, and have yet to lose in conference play. Their only impressive conference win was against Appalachian State, however, while the rest have been close victories against conference bottom-dwellers. Their success so far can be attributed to their phenomenal rebounding. The Mocs rank 12th in the nation in rebounds per game, with 41.1.
A Look Ahead- The next few weeks will determine if Chattanooga is a contender or pretender. A home game against College of Charleston, and road games against Wofford and Furman await the Mocs.
3. Wofford (7-9, 4-1)- The Terriers have one conference loss, and if it weren’t for Goudelock, they probably wouldn’t have any. But close doesn’t count in college hoops (just ask Gordon Hayward). The Terriers still have been impressive in conference play thus far, and are averaging a hefty 15.4 assists per game.
A Look Ahead- The Terriers will travel to North Carolina for a game against Davidson, then back to Spartanburg for three consecutive home games. This home stretch will be a golden opportunity for the Terriers to propel themselves to the top of the conference.
4. Furman (11-5, 3-2)- While the loss against Davidson was frustrating (the Paladins have now lost to College of Charleston 11 times in a row), the Paladins are still in position to win the SoCon. Consistency will be the key for Furman; they are 3-2 in their last five games, after not losing from November 28 to December 29.
A Look Ahead- The Paladins will travel to play the hapless Georgia Southern Eagles, and then square off against Samford and Chattanooga at home. If Furman can win these games, they will solidify themselves as legitimate conference contenders.
5. Appalachian State (7-7, 3-1)- Perhaps the Mountaineers were visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve, because they have not lost since. Senior guard Donald Sims continues to be the focal point of the dangerous Mountaineer offense, as he’s averaging 21.6 points per game.
A Look Ahead- After hosting the winless Spartans of UNC-Greensboro, the Mountaineers will travel to face Western Carolina, followed by another home game against The Citadel.
6. Davidson (8-8, 2-3)- After losing three in a row, the Wildcats continued their recent dominance over Furman with a 79-70 victory. This victory was desperately needed, as Davidson was in danger of losing three conference games in a row.
A Look Ahead- Davidson hosts the Terriers of Wofford on the 15th, and then road games at UNC-Greensboro and Elon. If Davidson wants to get back to the top of the standings, it needs to play well on the road, something they haven’t done well all year.
7. Samford (10-6, 2-2)- Looking at the statistics only, it’s amazing the Bulldogs have ten wins. They rank 301st in points per game, and 338th in rebounds per game. Fortunately for Samford, games aren’t played on paper.
A Look Ahead- Samford plays three of their next four on the road, with games at Chattanooga, Furman, and Wofford. If the Bulldogs want to last against these talented teams, they need to start scoring. Easier said then done.
8. Western Carolina (6-10, 2-2)- No one welcomed January more than Western Carolina did, after they lost every game in December. The calendar change apparently did them some good, as they’ve are undefeated in January thus far.
A Look Ahead- The Catamounts will host Appalachian State, then travel to College of Charleston and The Citadel. Wouldn’t it be something if they won every game in January, after losing every game in December? If you’re nodding yes, you’re right. But that was a rhetorical question.
9. Elon (8-8, 2-3) – After a tough start to the year, including two early conference loses, the Phoenix seem to be getting the hang of it. Elon recently earned road wins against Navy and Columbia, and was able to stay competitive against ACC foe North Carolina State.
A Look Ahead- The Phoenix will travel visit the Mountaineers of Appalachian State, then host Davidson and Georgia Southern.
10. The Citadel (5-11, 1-3)- The Bulldogs’ in-state road trip didn’t go so well, as they lost at Clemson, Wofford, and Furman. Offense has plagued the Bulldogs, as they rank 312th in points per game, and 300th in field goal percentage.
A Look Ahead- The Bulldogs host Chattanooga then hit the road again with games at College of Charleston and Samford.
11. Georgia Southern (4-14, 0-5)- The Eagles have defeated just one D-I team all year, and it took overtime to do so. This team is just plain bad, especially when it comes to rebounding, where they ranked 305th in the nation in rebounds per game. Don’t be fooled by the four wins, this team could easily be ranked below UNC-Greensboro.
A Look Ahead- The Eagles host Furman then travel to UNC-Greensboro, for the battle of the SoCon bottom-dwellers.
12. UNC-Greensboro (0-15, 0-5)- I’d say the record speaks for itself. The Spartans have yet to win a game, and if they don’t do so against Georgia Southern, I’m not sure they will all year. That being said, we are all cheering for you, UNC-Greensboro. Nobody deserves to lose every game.
A Look Ahead- The Spartans will travel to Appalachian State, and then host Davidson and Georgia Southern. Circle the Georgia Southern-UNC-Greensboro game on your calendar; it’s going to be a dandy.