The two games on Monday night are huge in very different ways.
In one, you’ve got the top two teams in the league squaring off as the league title is on the line. In the other, the sixth and seventh place teams square off in a battle to determine who will finish with the final bye in the SoCon.
This matters. More than most days, this day has well defined meaning built into it.
Let the games begin.
Game of the Day
ETSU at UNCG
Time: 7:00 PM
Why it matters: This is the one we’ve been waiting for. If ETSU wins in the Greensboro Coliseum, the Bucs will basically lock up the regular season SoCon title and will have overcome their toughest challenge to being undefeated heading to Asheville. If UNCG wins, they will stay in contention for the regular season championship and will drastically help their seed if they happen to win the SoCon Tournament in Asheville.
Key Players: The Bucs have Jalan McCloud playing great basketball and Desonta Bradford is as well. The key for the Bucs could well be if Peter Jurkin can be the equal to Jordy Kuiper and James Dickey. The Spartans big men have to create an advantage for the Spartans because that is where they create mismatches with other SoCon teams. They will have to create some mismatches with the Bucs as well.
Prediction: I have picked against the Bucs three times on the road this SoCon season. Obviously, they have won all of them. I picked them to lose at Mercer, at Wofford and at Furman. Now, I’m going for it one more time. This two teams are the two best defensive teams in the SoCon by my eyes and this will be a defensive war. The Spartans pull out a tight, defensive win. Spartans 65, Bucs 64.
Mercer at Samford
Why it matters: The race for the six seed is less wide open than it was a week ago. The Bulldogs trail the Bears by one game in the standings. If Mercer gets the win, they will have swept this weekend (on a weekend that The Citadel got swept) and put themselves in position to really lock down the six seed. If Samford wins, they will be tied with Mercer and The Citadel will be right in the thick of the race as well. This is a very important game for these two teams.
Key Players: The Bears would like to get a big game out of Ross Cummings, who is playing such great basketball right now. With Ria’n Holland out, Cummings has been brilliant. They need him to be great again. The Bulldogs will continue to rely on Demetrius Denzel-Dyson. He is such a big part of what Samford does and he will need to come up huge in this one.
Prediction: The Bulldogs are at home. They are not as good as Mercer, though, and I expect Mercer to come up with the road win and really put some separation in the race for the six seed. Cummings and Stephon Jelks are playing good basketball and the Bears get the big road win. Bears 81, Bulldogs 78.