By: Evan Lachnit
The Southern Conference saw a 10 seed make its conference tournament championship game last season. There are only 10 teams in the conference. So when I say anything is possible in this conference, I really mean it.
This season the conference has been dominated by two teams: Chattanooga and East Tennessee St. The Mocs of Chattanooga are led by Casey Jones and Tre’ McLean who both average over 12 points and six rebounds per game. East Tennessee St. is led by senior guard Ge’Lawn Guyn who is averaging 18.1 points per game. The Buccaneers also have got major contributions from former Missouri player Deuce Bello.
An interesting team in this conference is The Citadel. They are dead last in the conference with a record of 3-15 in conference and are on a nine game losing streak heading into the tournament. The Bulldogs score the most points per game in the conference (88.6). But they also give up a staggering 93.3 points per game, the most in the conference. Infact, no other team in the conference gives up more than 75 points per game on average.
In any year, The Citadel would be an afterthought and barely mentioned, if at all, in a conference tournament preview. But I feel that the Bulldogs are an intriguing team because of the output of their offense and the fact a 10 seed made the conference tournament just last season.
Wofford is another team that deserves mention. The two-time defending champion enters the tournament as the four seed. The Terriers have four players that average over 10 points per game and are led by Spencer Collins who is averaging 15.1 points per game. Wofford also defeated Furman and East Tennessee St. this year, two teams that are seeded higher than them.
That leads to the last team to touch on in this conference, the Furman Paladins. Furman was able to carry the momentum from the conference tournament last year into this season. Furman is 17-14, a six win improvement from last season when they were 11-22. Three of those wins last year came in the conference tournament. Matt Rafferty is a key to Furman’s success. The freshman forward averaged 8.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game in the regular season.
Now here is my projected bracket for the Southern Conference Tournament.
Round One: March 4th
No. 8 Samford vs. No. 9 VMI — No. 8 VMI
No. 7 Mercer vs. No. 10 The Citadel — No. 10 The Citadel
Quarterfinals: March 5th
No. 1 Chattanooga vs. No. 8 Samford — No. 1 Chattanooga
No. 4 Wofford vs. No. 5 Western Carolina — No. 4 Wofford
No. 2 East Tennessee St. vs. No. 10 The Citadel — No. 10 The Citadel
No. 3 Furman vs. No. 6 UNC – Greensboro — No. 3 Furman
Semifinals: March 6th
No. 1 Chattanooga vs. No. 4 Wofford — No. 1 Chattanooga
No. 10 The Citadel vs. No. 3 Furman — No. 3 Furman
Championship: March 7th
No. 3 Furman over No. 1 Chattanooga