Wednesday, March 2, 2016

SoCon conference tournament preview

This is part 11 of a 32-part series that will take a look at every conference and conference tournament in the country.  We'll recap who's playing and what the stakes are for each team in the conference.

The standings:
Chattanooga 15-3 (24-5)
East Tennessee St 14-4 (19-10)
Furman 11-7 (15-14)
Wofford 11-7 (13-16)
Western Carolina 10-8 (12-16)
UNC-Greensboro 10-8 (11-17)
Mercer 8-10 (16-13)
Samford 4-14 (11-18)
VMI 4-14 (6-20)
The Citadel 3-15 (7-21)

Tournament format:
4 days, all 10 teams going to a neutral site in Asheville.  Friday March 4 to Monday March 7.  No bells or whistles in this setup.

The matchups:
1) Chattanooga vs. 8/9) Samford/VMI
4) Wofford vs. 5) Western Carolina
2) East Tennessee St vs. 7/10) Mercer/The Citadel
3) Furman vs. 6) UNC-Greensboro

The stakes:
I think Chattanooga may have absorbed one too many losses.  The road win at Dayton lost steam, and other ones at Illinois and Georgia never had steam to begin with.  It's a shame because winning three true road games like that should mean more.  Once you remove those three games and Iowa St...the dirty secret is the rest of the schedule was kinda marginal with two non D-1s, and the non-con SoS was around 150.  That loss to UNC-G kind of prevents any backdoor argument.  And finally, with teams like Monmouth and UALR loitering about, they're behind other mid-majors in the at-large pecking order.

Did you know that East Tennessee St is a top 100 RPI team?  They also have one top 100 win, and are bolstered in the RPI by a lack of non-con cupcakes.  So don't get carried away, this isn't an NIT team.  Furman's kind of a postseason bubble team while Mercer definitely should be on the wrong side of it, but we'll see on those two.

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