By Reid McEowen
Although the Atlantic Sun Conference may not be one of the power-five men’s basketball conferences, a few of its teams have the potential to ruin millions of brackets when it comes to the big dance later this month.
For that very reason, it is important that we break down the conference favorites now to educate ourselves when it comes time to pick our brackets.
The conference is rather top heavy with two clear favorites to win the conference tournament. Both Liberty and Lipscomb have a record of 14-2 in the conference, and the two teams split the season series. The Lipscomb Bison’s were the team to come out of the Atlantic Sun last year but got bounced in the first round after losing to North Carolina.
The current number one seed, Lipscomb Bisons, come in with an overall record is 23-6, and they are my team to watch.
Missouri fans are familiar with the quality of this program- the Bison topped a hapless, Kim Anderson-led Tiger men’s team in Dec.
2016 at Mizzou Arena.
The team has also come up with big wins this season against the SMU Mustangs and the, then ranked, TCU Horn Frogs. Their first-round matchup in the conference tournament will be against eighth seed, Kennesaw State, a team the Bison have already bested by more than 16 points twice.
The Bison’s clear scoring leader and my player to watch is Senior guard, Garrison Matthews, who averages 19.8 PPG and leads the entire conference in scoring. Matthews season high of 34 points came against the NJIT and he has led the team in scoring during conference play for all but one game. Matthews has dominated all four years at Lipscomb averaging a total of 20.6 PPG as a starter during his career.
Although I feel Lipscomb is the clear favorite to come out of the Atlantic Sun, I wouldn’t sleep on the fourth seeded Florida Golf Coast Eagles, who have won seven of their last ten, and have already beaten The Bison this year.
The Eagles hope to get revenge on the Bison after losing to them in the conference championship game last year. With their team being rather balanced with all their starters scoring over eight points a game and being led by Senior guards, Schadrac Casimir and Haanif Cheathan, who average 14.3 PPG and 13.2 PPG respectively, I think this older squad could cause some trouble in the conference tournament and possibly give the Bison a run for their money.
It will be interesting to see if Lipscomb can continue to lead the herd, how Matthews performs in the tournament, and if FGCU can conjure up some of the same “Dunk City” energy that saw the team go on a miracle Sweet 16 run in 2012, highlighted by a win over No. 2 Georgetown.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org