March 05, 2013
It’s the first week of March, which means college basketball is about to get really fun.
The Southern Conference basketball tournament will be held this weekend in Asheville, N.C., to determine who will represent the SoCon the NCAA tournament. It’s do or die for every team in a one-bid league like the SoCon, so someone’s season will end with every game played.
On the men’s side, Georgia Southern enters this year’s tournament as the No. 9 seed and will face No. 8 seed Wofford Friday at 11:30 a.m. The winner will have a date with No. 1 seed Davidson Saturday at noon.
Friday’s second game will feature No. 5 Samford and No. 12 Furman at 2 p.m., with the winner moving on to face No. 4 seed Appalachian State Saturday. Next up will be No. 7 Chattanooga vs. No. 10 UNC Greensboro; the winner of that matchup meets No. 2 Elon Saturday evening. In Friday’s nightcap, No. 6 Western Carolina squares off against No. 11 The Citadel for the right to meet No. 3 seed College of Charleston Saturday night.
Georgia Southern split a pair of road games last week to close out the regular season — a 66-60 win at UNC Greensboro and an 83-48 loss at Davidson. The Wildcats avenged their only SoCon loss of the season as they manhandled the Eagles at Belk Arena.
This weekend, however, everyone is playing on a neutral court. I’ve said it a few times this season, but I’ll say it again: Georgia Southern has shown it is capable of beating anyone in the conference. But the Eagles also can lose to anyone. When it comes to getting an invite to the Big Dance in the SoCon, all that really matters is this one weekend in March. Anything can happen — and that’s what makes it fun.
The final regular-season games were played Monday night on the women’s side of things, so seeding was not finalized as of press deadline. We do know that Georgia Southern will face Western Carolina in the opening round of the tournament Friday at 11:30 a.m., and the winner of that game will advance to face No. 1 Chattanooga on Saturday.
Davidson, Appalachian State and Elon are seeded second through fourth and also will enjoy a first-round bye. The College of Charleston and Samford enter Monday night tied for the fifth spot, which earns the final bye. The loser of that race will be seeded sixth and will face the loser of the Wofford/UNC Greensboro matchup from Monday night, who will be the No. 11 seed in the tournament. Furman is locked into the seventh spot and will face the winner of Wofford and Greensboro.
Confused yet? If so, everything will be worked out by the time you read this, so get online and find a bracket.
I realize it’s hard for folks to make it to an out-of-town game on a Friday morning — which is when both Georgia Southern teams will be playing. But if either Eagle squad advances, I definitely recommend making the trip to Asheville this weekend. It’s not that far of a drive, and these conference tournaments are always a lot of fun.
But if you don’t leave town this weekend, Georgia Southern baseball is at home and will be opening conference play against Wofford. The Eagles took two of three this past weekend from Xavier. The Musketeers won game one on Friday by a score of 11-4 thanks to an eight-run fourth inning. Southern bounced back with a 7-5 win Saturday afternoon, and the Eagles won the rubber game on Sunday 9-3.
It was a chilly weekend to watch baseball, but the forecast for this weekend’s series against Wofford looks picture perfect. First pitch Friday is set for 6 p.m., Saturday’s game is at 2:30 p.m., and Sunday’s finale is set for 1:30 p.m. Let’s get conference play off to a strong start and sweep those Terriers!