So it’s been a while since we did one of these. Why? Mostly because we just don’t have time in the day to get it all done.
But here we sit, exactly four weeks from today, we will have a Southern Conference Championship Game and determine the automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament.
In the mean time, things seem to be firming up in our rankings. As the four of us voted, this time there was just slight variation on The Citadel and Western Carolina along with Samford and Chattanooga. A little flip flopping here and there changed things up in a few places. Other than that, we all agreed on everything, which is surprising given how little I feel like we know about these teams at this point.
Let’s get to the rankings:
5) Western Carolina
6) The Citadel
–I think the 5-8 teams all have played at least decently in recent weeks. All of them seem to be improving, even if some do not have the wins to show for that improvement. If I were one of the top four teams in Asheville, I really wouldn’t want to see any of those four teams.
–Unless I was ETSU. Then I wouldn’t worry about Chattanooga. The Mocs are not ready to hang with the Bucs. The Bucs are a really bad match-up for the Mocs.
–ETSU has swept Mercer, but the Bears with Ria’n Holland are good enough to upset the Bucs in Asheville, if everything breaks just right.
–Western Carolina in Asheville. Nope. Nope. Nope. Don’t want to play them. I’m following my gut instinct on this one. Nobody does.
–Samford is such a disappointment. I feel bad for them. This was supposed to be a special year for them. There is still time to turn it around, but time is running out. Remember, they played a bunch of close games last year and lost a bunch of them. That was supposed to change this year with experience. Injuries have derailed that promising season. We should all remember this when evaluating Chattanooga (the king of the close loss this year) heading into next year.
–VMI is quietly making strides as well. They are a better team than they were on January 5th.
–Overall, I think the top four teams in the conference are the best teams in the SoCon, with ETSU the clear #1. The next six all have spoiler capability for one game in Asheville. I have a hard time seeing any of the current #8-10 teams playing on that Monday night four weeks from now. I can see strange scenarios where #5-7 could wind up there.
–The #6 seed is a better spot to be than the #5 seed this year. Both receive byes. The difference is minute between the #3 and #4 seeds (who these two teams would play in the quarters on Saturday). The difference between #1 seed ETSU and whoever gets the #2 seed is large in the semifinals, though. Being the #6 seed gives an easier path to the finals than the #5 seed. In much the same way, being the #4 seed is worse than being the #6 seed in some ways, and certainly worse than the #3 seed. One of the UNCG/Wofford/Furman trio will get stuck at #4 (more than likely). That is not the spot to be in this year.