That’s all that’s left.
So much to do. So little time.
Game of the Day
Wofford at ETSU
Time: 7:00 PM
Why it matters: The loss for ETSU to The Citadel on Tuesday was a shocker, but with Desonta Bradford out, may be it was less unexpected than you may have thought. ETSU is hosting Wofford now, and must come up with a critical win in order to try to get the regular season championship. Wofford is trying to move into third in the SoCon and could use the win here to get there. Of course, with the Terriers struggling, they really just need a win to get back to having some positive momentum.
Key Players: Jermaine Long is a long defender and he will be guarding Fletcher Magee, which could produce all kinds of problems for the Terriers star. It seems like the Terriers can’t perform well offensively without Magee playing very well. Watching Long try to defend Magee could easily decide which way this one goes.
Prediction: Does anyone really think the Bucs will blow another one at home? Yes, Bradford may or may not play, and if he’s out, the match-up certainly gets closer. If Peter Jurkin still is suffering from the flu, then the Bucs could find themselves in a battle. If Magee can make a bunch of shots, the Terriers could keep it close. In the end though, in Johnson City, the Bucs are the better team and will win relatively easy. Bucs 78, Terriers 68.
Mercer at The Citadel
Why it matters: So The Citadel may not be the hottest team in the SoCon. They did lose to VMI less than a week ago. But they also won at ETSU in their most recent game. Can they get the seven seed or are they going to get the eight seed? Either way, they are a dangerous team that no one wants to mess with in Asheville. On the other hand, Mercer is the hottest team in the SoCon. Can the Bears get another win? Can they move up higher in the SoCon pecking order and get into the top five? If Mercer can stay hot for two more games, they will be one of the tri-favorites in Asheville.
Key Players: We all love Ross Cummings. How could you not love the story? He’s the story of the SoCon and he just stays hot. He is currently one of the hottest shooters in the conference and should be on a short list with Fletcher Magee and Francis Alonso for the best shooters in the conference. For The Citadel, Zane Najdawi is earning attention as a possible All SoCon player. He has earned that. Najdawi is very good and is a difficult match-up for any team in the conference.
Prediction: The Bulldogs have been a tough out in Charleston and there is no telling what might happen in this one. This is one of the better games of Friday. Mercer is the hottest team in the conference and needs to keep it going heading into Asheville. The Bears are the better team and I have a hard time looking past what Mercer has done lately…even in Charleston. Bears 86, Bulldogs 81.
Furman at Western Carolina
Why it matters: The Paladins are fighting for the three seed. A win would be critical for this club as they are striving to clinch that seed. The Catamounts are looking to clinch the final bye. A win for Western Carolina would do it. These two teams could be playing in a quarterfinal match-up on Saturday pretty easily. The Catamounts are in a slump and need to get going. This is a huge opportunity.
Key Players: The Catamounts have Mike Amius and will need big things from him. The Paladins will rely on Matt Rafferty to play well. These two playing against each other will be the key to the whole game. These are two of the better big men in the SoCon and both teams rely on their big men to get them going.
Prediction: In Cullowhee, Western Carolina is tough. In Asheville, Western Carolina is tough. But they are really not playing well right now. The Catamounts really need to get going if they want to contend in the tournament next weekend. This is a chance to do just that. However, Furman has been playing very well. The Paladins should be able to come up with the win on the road behind Devin Sibley and Rafferty. Paladins 69, Catamounts 62.
Chattanooga at UNCG
Why it matters: The Mocs shocked the Spartans in Chattanooga earlier this year. UNCG still has a shot at the regular season title. The Mocs still have an outside shot at the seven seed if they can win out. UNCG just needs to win out and have another ETSU slip up to claim the regular season title. The Spartans are hungry to get there and avenge their earlier loss.
Key Players: Josh Phillips scored 10 points and had 12 rebounds against the Spartans the first time around. Jordy Kuiper had 4 points and 2 rebounds in that match-up. If Phillips is going to outplay Kuiper, that would be a major reason that the Mocs would be able to hang around in this one. Kuiper is the emotional soul of the Spartans. If he comes out flat again, the Spartans could definitely be in trouble. Kuiper was out against Wofford with the flu and may still not be 100%. (Have you had the flu and tried to play basketball a few days later? Exhausting.) He needs to emotionally lead on this night.
Prediction: The Spartans will stay right in the SoCon title race by not getting swept. There is no way UNCG loses to Chattanooga for a second time. In fact, the Mocs should be prepared for the best the Spartans can be. That will not be a good match-up for Chattanooga. Spartans 79, Mocs 64.
Samford at VMI
Why it matters: The Bulldogs are really struggling, but get a shot at VMI. If Samford can win on the road, they can narrow the gap to the seven seed. They have an outside shot at the six seed as well. But they must win out. VMI can finish anywhere between seven and ten still. They get Chattanooga and Samford at home. It is not impossible to think the Keydets can win out.
Key Players: Justin Coleman has been playing great basketball and does not get mentioned too often. Coleman has scored in double figures in all except three SoCon games. He also has gotten in double figure assists in three games. He twice had nine assists and twice has nine points. Triston Chambers also scored 34 against VMI in their first match-up. Samford’s inside game is a bit of a weakness, so Tyler Creammer will try to take advantage of that. The 6-10 sophomore has only averaged 7.0 points per game this year, but he needs to do better than that against the Bulldogs here. If Creammer has a big game, the Keydets will be helped out.
Prediction: Honestly, this game is a toss up- maybe the biggest one of Friday night. Bubba Parham only scored three in his last game and will be looking to get back on track. The Keydets will rise up and come up with a big win over the Bulldogs, as Chambers will not be able to score like that again. Creammer and Parham will be very good. This game could easily be an 8-9 game next Friday. Keydets 71, Bulldogs 69.