January 29, 2013
All right Eagles, it’s time to make your move.
With 10 games left in the regular season, Georgia Southern stands at 9-12 overall and, more importantly, 3-5 in conference play. Four teams get an all-important first-round bye in the tournament — the top team from each division and the two teams with the next-best records, regardless of which division those teams come from. Why the SoCon is separated into North and South divisions but seeds teams one through 12 for the tournament regardless of division is beyond me. But they didn’t ask me.
The Eagles are currently sitting in third place in the South division behind Davidson (8-1) and the College of Charleston (6-3). In the North, Elon leads with a 6-2 record, but all six teams have a 3-5 record or better, which puts Georgia Southern behind the 8-ball at the moment. If the season ended today, Southern would be tied for the No. 8 seed with Chattanooga. The good news: There are 10 games left, so the Eagles still have ample opportunity to make up ground.
This past week, Georgia Southern dug a 17-point hole against Appalachian State on the road Thursday night before going on a 22-5 run in the final 8:15 of regulation to force overtime. Unfortunately, the Eagles would fall 64-62 in the extra period. Two days later, the Eagles picked up a huge 72-66 win over Western Carolina in Cullowhee.
It seems like falling into a hole early has been a habit for this team all season. In the App State game, the Eagles were never in the game for the first 32 minutes. But then they turned it on and fought their way back. It seems this team always has a run in it and can come back from any deficit. Having that ability makes the Eagles a dangerous matchup for any opponent — but it’s also a frustrating trend. For the sake of the collective blood pressure of the Eagle Nation, can we just win a few the easy way?
In my estimation, Georgia Southern needs to finish these last 10 games no worse than 7-3 if they want any chance at a first-round bye. That’s not to say it’s a given because that kind of run would only put the Eagles at 10-8, which by no means guarantees to be a top four record. But in my mind, 7-3 — or even 8-2 — would be a realistic goal and, with a little help, would at least put Southern in the hunt for a bye. Plus, it’s always nice to go into the tournament playing good basketball and on a roll.
Women’s basketball is in a similar situation. They are currently in a three-way tie for seventh place in the conference standings with a 3-6 record. The difference between these two teams is that the ladies have not shown they can beat good teams. Their three conference wins have come over teams with a combined SoCon record of 4-23. Teams at the top of the conference have handled the Eagles with ease.
The good news is that Southern has won two in a row after a Saturday road win over UNC Greensboro. Hopefully this squad is gaining some confidence that could lead to some wins over teams ahead of them in the standings. The ladies have 11 games left, with seven of them coming at home.
Realistically, the Eagles could be seeded as highly as sixth come tournament time, as they are just a half game behind sixth-place Charleston. If they really get hot, they could be seeded even higher — and the top five teams all get a first-round bye. On the other side of the coin, if they don’t put together some wins, they could very easily be looking at a No. 9 seed.
With February upon us, these teams need a huge home court advantage when they play at Hanner. It all starts Saturday night with a doubleheader, when the ladies host Davidson at 5 p.m., followed by the men against Chattanooga at 7:30 p.m. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: There are few environments tougher on visiting teams than Hanner Fieldhouse when it’s packed and rocking.
Let’s blow the roof off that place Saturday night!