By Grayson Rainey
March Madness is a little under two weeks ago and that means that conference tournaments are just the beginning. This time of year is like a Christmas present for college basketball fans.
The Southern conference has been highlighted by the great play of the No. 24 Wofford Terriers, who have gone undefeated in the regular season and picked up a nice win in the non-conference road with at South Carolina by a whopping 20 points in November.
They also had no fear in scheduling- taking on Kansas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi State on the road. They lost all three- but each one of those teams have cracked the Associated Press Top 25 this season.
Wofford has been the dominant team throughout the SoCon this year and are projected to be around a 7- seed in the upcoming NCAA men’s tournament, according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. They went 18-0 in conference in the regular season, a great feat for a team not well known by many national fans.
Wofford has quick guards they can shoot. Perhaps No. 3 North Carolina knows that better than anyone. The Terriers gave the Tar Heels a battle and almost won at their home, but lost 78-67. Arguably, Wofford’s best player is Fletcher McGee, who had 36 points against Samford on Mar. 2, and is shooting 36 percent from the three point line.
Wofford is far from the only team in the mix for the championship crown. Otherwise, head coach Wes Miller’s UNC-Greensboro Spartans seem to be getting better each year while he is in charge in Greensboro. Making the tournament last year and playing Gonzaga pretty tough in the first round was a positive sign for this emerging team in the Southern. If they win their first two matchups in the conference tournament, they will most likely play Wofford in the final for the chance to punch their ticket for the big dance. They played very well against LSU early in the season and only lost by six points. They have a great guard in senior Francis Alonzo who has been to the NCAA Tournament before and played well, scoring 16 points in Boise.
Keep an eye on the Furman Paladins as well. Furman one of the teams that were picked at the top of the standings for the SoCon in October. They had a great non-conference slate, defeating defending national champion Villanova in Philadelphia, as well as a win over defending Final Four team Loyola Chicago.
They played against No. 10 LSU in December, and gave a valiant effort but came up short. The only realistic way Furman is getting into the Tournament is winning the conference tournament- and that will definitely be a tall order considering the dominance of Wofford this season.
Matt Rafferty has been pretty consistent for the Paladins and gives them a post guy player low, which is always helpful especially this time of year. Jordan Lyons is a quick guard who could knock some three’s down in the tournament. Lunardi has Furman penciled in as one of his “First Four Out.”
The Paladins are certainly aware of where they stand during this hectic stretch to the season. They have the talent to beat a team like Wofford, but would have to play a compltete forty minute game to beat the Terriers.
The tournament will be played U.S. Cellular Arena in Asheville, North Carolina- the home court of UNC Asheville, and tips Saturday.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org