Let’s go through the scenarios:
1) If UNCG wins on Sunday, they get the one seed and ETSU gets the two seed. If ETSU loses, UNCG gets the one seed and ETSU gets the two seed. If ETSU wins and UNCG loses, ETSU gets the one seed, UNCG gets the two seed.
2) If Mercer beats Wofford, Mercer gets the four seed, Wofford gets the five seed.
3) If Wofford wins and Furman loses to ETSU, Wofford gets the three seed and Furman gets the four seed. If Furman wins or if Wofford loses, Furman gets the three seed.
4) If Western Carolina wins or if Samford loses, Western Carolina gets the six seed and Samford the seven seed. If Samford wins and Western Carolina loses, Samford gets the six seed and Western Carolina the seven seed.
5) The winner of VMI-Chattanooga gets the nine seed. The loser gets the ten seed.
And there you have it. Only The Citadel is locked into the 8 seed so far. Things will be much clearer by Sunday at about 6:00 PM Eastern.
Game of the Day
Furman at ETSU
Time: 2:00 PM
Why it matters: You read it up above. ETSU must win and hope UNCG loses to get the number one seed. If that doesn’t happen, they will be the two seed. Furman was win to clinch the three seed. A loss could send them down to fourth. But there is more to it than that. ETSU is in a bit of a free fall at the moment. If they lose their third straight home game and their fourth game in five contests, the Bucs will have no momentum heading to Asheville. On the other hand, if Furman loses, they will be 3-5 against the other top five teams. The Paladins have really struggled against the best teams in the SoCon, and looked dominant against the lower seeded teams in the SoCon. They could use this one to prove that their current hot streak isn’t just schedule related, but an actual turning of the corner.
Key Players: Peter Jurkin vs. Matt Rafferty could well be the deciding factor of this one. Rafferty needs to have a big edge against Jurkin for the Paladins to have the edge. If Jurkin can neutralize Rafferty, that would be huge. Of course, if John Brown keeps on shooting like he is, he could be just the X Factor the Paladins are looking for.
Prediction: How can you pick a side? The Bucs are stumbling and it was supposed to be a product of illness against The Citadel. But that didn’t seem to be the case against Wofford anymore. So are they in a free fall? Maybe. Jurkin will play well as the Bucs find a way to close out the regular season on a winning note. Bucs 76, Paladins 74.
Chattanooga at VMI
Why it matters: The winner gets the nine seed. The loser is the ten seed. These are the two youngest teams in the league, so it should not be particularly surprising that they are near the bottom. The Keydets can sweep Chattanooga with a win. The Mocs can prove that first loss (a heart breaker at home) was nothing more than a fluke.
Key Players: The Mocs need to find some offense. The most likely source of that is probably Nat Dixon. He will need to knock down some shots. The Mocs need him to do just that. The Keydets need Bubba Parham to be scoring. Parham is the most explosive scorer for VMI and he will need to score some points.
Prediction: Neither team is particularly good offensively and both teams are struggling. With Rodney Chatmon out for the Mocs, the offense is really not good. The defense is still solid, though. Still, in Lexington, VMI will come out and play a good game. This is a game that they are really wanting to claim. The Keydets win a nailbiter. Keydets 58, Mocs 56.
Mercer at Wofford
Why it matters: If Wofford wins and Furman loses, the Terriers will climb to the three seed. If they lose, they will fall to the five seed. The Terriers, with their win over ETSU, has new hope as they head to Asheville and is looking to keep that momentum going. Mercer is the hottest team in the SoCon, and a win would put them as the four seed, while a loss drops them to the five seed. Not that that is particularly important in Asheville. Regardless, a Mercer win further establishes themselves as one of the teams to beat in Asheville.
Key Players: You all know what I’m going to say by now. Ross Cummings vs. Fletcher Magee should be tremendous shooters. They can both knock down a bunch of shots. I’m all for having a three point shootout to decide this game. No joke. Cummings and Magee should be a ton of fun.
Prediction: Look- I’m back on the Wofford bandwagon. I was off for a minute or two, but I’m back on. That being said, Mercer is the hottest team in the league. Cam Jackson will have his hands full with the Mercer big men, like Demetre Rivers. The Bears will eek out another close win over a top tier team. Bears 75, Terriers 73.
The Citadel at Western Carolina
Why it matters: Western Carolina needs a win to clinch the final bye in the SoCon and get something resembling a positive thing heading into Asheville. The Citadel could not capitalize on the momentum gained from beating ETSU, but if they beat the Catamounts they could get some of that going again.
Key Players: The Catamounts are really needing Mike Amius to be a star. Amius is good, but maybe not quite to start level. They need him to be that star in this game. The Bulldogs will be relying on Matt Frierson to be hot and shoot lights out from long range. Furman was hot shooting on Friday night against Western Carolina. Frierson would like to keep that trend going.
Prediction: Can Western Carolina beat anyone right now? It’s hard to know. They are really struggling. The Citadel is the most complicated team in the league. Who knows how good they are? Still, the gut feeling is that, despite the game meaning more to Western Carolina, the Catamounts are just not playing well and the Bulldogs pull off the slight upset. Bulldogs 78, Catamounts 73.
Samford at UNCG
Why it matters: The race for sixth and first could be over by now. Or it could all come down to this game. If ETSU wins and Western Carolina loses earlier in the day, the Bulldogs and Spartans will both have things to play for in this one. UNCG will be looking to be the number one seed for the second consecutive season. Samford is looking to steal the final bye. It matters.
Key Players: The Bulldogs will need to have Demetrius Denzel-Dyson have his best game in a while. He is a key contributor for them and the most talented player on the roster. Against UNCG, they need him to have a huge game. UNCG will be hoping that James Dickey can put up a big game against the Bulldogs. He should have an edge in the paint against the Bulldogs interior defense.
Prediction: The Spartans are such a good home team and playing a team that is not the best right now. With so much on the line, look for the Spartans to play with a lot of passion. UNCG comes up with a pretty easy home win. Spartans 77, Bulldogs 63.