Southern Conference Tournament Preview


See preseason preview here

Revised All-Conference selections:

Best call(s): This actually went pretty well! I got the champ right, despite first-team-caliber player Casey Jones missing most of the year, and I nailed the rest of the top 4 (slightly out of order). I stated that ETSU had a high ceiling due to all the high-level transfers coming in (Guyn, Bello, Jurkin, Cromer from JUCO), and they ended up alone in second. I also nailed the Furman leap up the standings after a rough 2014-15 (and I stand by my Croone-for-POY campaign), though I didn’t anticipate true freshman Matt Rafferty’s impact. I also ended up spot-on at the bottom of the league, as the roster at The Citadel just wasn’t quite ready for Duggar Ball yet. I think he’ll gain some momentum there, though. Last little tidbit – I called Stephon Jelks as a breakout candidate for Mercer, and he delivered with 12.2ppg and 8.6rpg.

Worst call(s): I thought ETSU’s returnees would form the bulk of their production (picked AJ Merriweather and Lester Wilson to my all-conference teams), but Merriweather blew out his knee in January, and Guyn/Cromer/Bello were already the focal points of the team. Tevon Saddler left UNC Greensboro between the time I posted my preview and the season starting, so that was a bummer, but the team still managed without him.

Tournament Bracket:

 Who I want to win: I would love to see Furman take home the victory. They haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1980 (by far the longest drought of the top teams), and Stephen Croone is an incredibly underrated lead guard. Three solid sophomore wings compliment him on the perimeter, and the Paladins actually have some inside threats, too, between the freshman Rafferty, Kris “Ox” Acox, and the versatile Kendrec Ferrara. 

Who I think will win: The tournament is played at a neutral site in Asheville, NC, so no team truly has a homecourt advantage – but I still like Chattanooga to take crown from the 1-seed slot. The Mocs went 5-1 against the rest of the top 4, only losing at Furman in early January, and their talented junior trifecta of shot-swatting big man Justin Tuoyo, dynamic wing Tre’ McLean, and ballhandler Greg Pryor should be enough to keep up that dominance.

Chance to make a run in the NCAA Tournament: Chattanooga won at Georgia, Illinois, and (most impressively) Dayton during the non-conference portion of the schedule, so they are more than capable of competing with big boys. Tuoyo is legit inside, something many small conference teams don’t have, and the Mocs bring a ton of experience to the table (the whole rotation is juniors and seniors). Beyond that, ETSU certainly has the talent to make a run (won at Georgia Tech during the season) with their plethora of defected high-major talent. Furman probably can’t get higher than a 15 (they could steal one from there if Croone carries them?), and everyone else would be in 16-seed hell.

How I think it will go:

(8) Samford defeats (9) VMI
(10 Citadel defeats (7) Mercer

(1) Chattanooga defeats (8) Samford
(4) Wofford defeats (5) Western Carolina
(10) Citadel defeats (2) ETSU – Duggar Ball strikes in the postseason!
(3) Furman defeats (6) Greensboro

(1) Chattanooga defeats (4) Wofford – this should be an excellent game, though
(3) Furman defeats (10) Citadel

(1) Chattanooga defeats (3) Furman

Chattanooga snags a 13 seed and gives some poor 4-seed hell. The lack of a great creator on the ball dooms them down the stretch, though, and they fall just short of a first round upset.