SoCon hoop: If it ended today (and peek to next year)

thIf Southern Conference basketball ended today … would anybody miss it?

Calm down, it’s just a joke. What we’re really after is what the SoCon Tournament bracket would look like if the SoCon regular-season ended today. We’re less than a month from the tourney, set for March 7-10 in Asheville, and most teams have five or six regular-season games left to play.

To review, the SoCon Tournament is an 11-team tournament this season, with the top five teams receiving byes into Saturday’s second round. So here’s what the bracket looks like as of today.

FRIDAY MARCH 7

11 a.m. — No. 8 UNCG (11-14, 4-6) vs. No. 9 App State (7-16, 3-7)

1:30 p.m. — No. 7 Georgia Southern (11-14, 4-6) vs. No. 10 Furman (7-17, 1-10)

4 p.m. No. 6 Samford (11-15, 5-6) vs. No. 11 The Citadel (4-22, 0-11).

Don’t tell anybody, but if you don’t get to Asheville until Saturday, you might not miss a whole lot.

SATURDAY MARCH 8

Noon — UNCG/App vs. No. 1 Davidson (14-11, 10-1).

2:30 0.m. — No. 4 Elon (14-11, 7-3) vs. No. 5 WCU (14-11, 7-3).

6 p.m. — No. 2 Chattanooga (15-11, 9-2) vs. GSU/Furman

8:30 p.m. — No. 3 Wofford (14-10, 8-3) vs. Samford/Citadel

Elon vs. WCU will be the most entertaining game of the first two days.The teams split during the regular season.

If the seeds hold, Sunday’s semifinals will pit No. 1 Davidson vs. No. 4 Elon in what would be a fun teacher/student showdown between Bob McKillop and Matt Matheny. It’s also two teams trying to win the SoCon before taking off for the greener pastures of the Atlantic 10 and CAA, respectively.

The other semifinal would have No. 2 Chattanooga vs. No. 3 Wofford in an equally entertaining matchup of newbie Will Wade vs. SoCon veteran Mike Young. Wofford played Chattanooga in rare back-to-back games this year, with the Mocs squeaking out a 70-69 win at home on Jan. 11 before taking a 71-57 win in Spartanburg on Jan. 18. Those wins came during Chattanooga’s 8-0 start in league play; since the second loss to the Mocs, Wofford has won seven straight.

The title game is set for 9 p.m. Monday March 10 on ESPN2. The early call here has Davidson defeating Wofford in the finals, giving Bob McKillop an eighth SoCon tourney title before he rides off to the Atlantic 10.

Now, here’s a peek at what SoCon hoop will look like in 2014-15. Davidson (A-10), Elon (CAA), App State and Georgia Southern (both to the Sun Belt) will be gone. The SoCon will welcome in VMI from the Big South and Mercer and East Tennessee State from the Atlantic Sun. That makes 10 SoCon teams for 2014-15; the SoCon will have no divisions (like this season) and play a double round-robin of 18 league games. In the tournament, the bottom four teams will play on Friday, with the top six getting a bye into the Saturday quarterfinals.

Based on this season’s current NCAA RPI, here’s how the SoCon might shape up next season:

Team         Coach              Current RPI

Mercer         Bob Hoffman       66

Wofford      Mike Young          182

ETSU          Murry Bartow      204

Chattanooga   Will Wade       231

VMI          Duggar Baucom     236

WCU       Larry Hunter         238

Samford     Bennie Seltzer   285

UNCG        Wes Miller           312

Furman      Niko Medved        331

The Citadel   Chuck Driesell   347

So Mercer comes in as the top team in the new-look SoCon, with ETSU and VMI both in the upper division. Going strictly by this year’s NCAA RPI rankings, the additions and subtractions are a net-plus for the SoCon; next year’s version averages 243 on the current RPI (ranging from No. 66 to No. 347) compared with 263 for this year’s (led by No. 152 Davidson and No. 153 Elon). Of course, that doesn’t account for Davidson’s name recognition and tradition; the Wildcats will be missed.

 

 

One thought on “SoCon hoop: If it ended today (and peek to next year)

  1. In 1957 Citadel, under Norm Sloan, was the most improved team in the nation. We will have a similar scenario next year when a few of Coach Driessel’s sophomores become juniors. Last year Citadel had one senior, this year none and only one junior. It will get better.

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