Throughout conference championship week, KSR College writers will be previewing each conference tournament finals game to bring you the latest information on who’s secured a bid to the NCAA tournament. Here’s Dean Bowling to kick things off.
While many teams are still focusing on closing out their regular seasons, several conferences have already begun/are concluding their conference tournaments. For the vast majority of smaller universities, winning their conference tournament is the only way to punch a ticket to the Big Dance. That brings us to the Atlantic Sun conference. Heading into the tournament two teams were tied for first, Mercer and Florida Gulf Coast, each having a record of 21-10 and facing off at noon today. Now, after a week of thrilling A-Sun men’s basketball action, only those two teams remain. Two teams enter, only one team leaves(for the NCAA tournament). Who will it be? Let’s break it down…
Impressive Wins: Alabama (If you consider that impressive)
Impact Player: Travis Smith
Tournament Games So Far: (#1 Mercer 82, #8 Lipscomb 48) (#1 Mercer 72, #5 USC Upstate 64)
Previous Tournament Bids: Two (1981, 1985)
Florida Gulf Coast
Impressive Win: Miami
Impact Player: Sherwood Brown (A-Sun Player of the Year)
Tournament Games So Far: (#2 FGCU 73, #7 North Florida 63) (#2 FGCU 72, #3 Stetson 58)
Previous Tournament Bids: None
Since both of the teams are in the same conference (which is usually the case during conference tournaments), the teams have already played each other twice during the regular season. The first match-up saw Mercer as the victor in a double-overtime thriller , which was played at Mercer. The second match-up was yet another barn burner in which Florida Gulf Coast came out victorious with a final score of 60-57. I feel confident that Florida Gulf Coast will come out with this one. While each team has shown that they can beat the other, it seems as though FGCU has the XFactor: Sherwood Brown. Despite the fact that I can’t figure out whether he’s the same person as this up and coming R&B singer, the senior has been leading his team on an impressive run, scoring 18 points with 7 rebounds in his most recent game. Mercer struggled for the majority of the game against USC Upstate while FGCU gave Stetson a pounding they won’t soon forget. It seems as though Florida Gulf Coast is on top of their game right now and, despite what Kenpom thinks, they’ll use that momentum to claim the Atlantic Sun’s automatic bid.
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