The Southern Conference Tournament kicked off this March 3, 2017 with a pair of opening round games. The ninth seeded Citadel Bulldogs pulled off the minor upset, edging out the eight seeded Western Carolina Catamounts, while the seventh seeded Samford Bulldogs had no issues with the tenth seeded VMI Keydets.
The Southern Conference is comprised of ten teams, all which qualify for the conference tournament. Obviously, the bottom four teams play each other, while the other six are on a bye. The UNC Greensboro Spartans are the top dog this year, edging out the Furman Paladins and East Tennessee St. Buccaneers despite having the same conference record. The Spartans however, swept the Buccaneers while splitting with the Paladins. The aforementioned Paladins claimed the number two seed as they split with both teams.
The schedule are as follows:
Friday, March 3 (First Round)
Game 1: No. 9 The Citadel Bulldogs 78, No. 8 Western Carolina Catamounts 72
Game 2: No. 7 Samford Bulldogs 79, No. 10 VMI Keydets 61
Saturday, March 4 (Quarterfinals), WatchESPN
Game 3: No. 1 UNC Greensboro vs. No. 9 The Citadel, noon
Game 4: No. 4 Chattanooga vs. No. 5 Wofford, 2:30 p.m.
Game 5: No. 2 Furman vs. No. 7 Samford, 6 p.m.
Game 6: No. 3 East Tennessee vs. No. 6 Mercer, 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 5 (Semifinals), WatchESPN
Game 7: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 5 p.m.
Game 8: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 7:30 p.m.
Monday, March 6 (Championship)
Game 9: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 7 p.m., ESPN2
Prediction: I’ve got to say, the Southern Conference really tightened up on competitiveness. In year’s past, the Wofford Terriers would basically dominate, which shows in their winning of the tournament in 4 of the last 7 years. As for who I’m siding with, I got to go with the East Tennessee St. Buccaneers. Despite losing to the top dog Spartans twice and second seeded Paladins once, they’ve been fairly dominant. Also, I would be remiss not to mention this, but the Chattanooga Mocs are another threat in this tournament, which just makes the path harder to get through.
On the season, the Buccaneers are an impressive 24-7, while going 14-4 in conference play. They’ve tested themselves in their non-conference schedule somewhat, playing the likes of the UNC Wilmington Seahawks, Dayton Flyers, Mississippi St. Bulldogs and Tennessee Volunteers. They were only able to defeat the Mississippi St. Bulldogs, but they gave the Volunteers at battle to end, losing by only 4 points.
According to Ken Pomeroy, the East Tennessee St. Buccaneers are the 69th ranked team. They have the 125th ranked offense and 38rd ranked defense, which is the main reason I’m picking them. They just create havoc, forcing turnovers at will.
The Southern Conference Tournament games take place in Asheville, North Carolina. A site that favors the number one seeded UNC Greensboro Spartans. Again, a team that has defeated the Buccaneers twice already. However, I believe with a defense ranked within the top 40 of the nation, the third time is going to be the charm!