The SoCon is one trippy league. Every year a new team makes it to the top to win the automatic bid and go to the NCAAs. Davidson is trying to nix that trend by winning the league for the second straight year. But they will have some competition as the top of the conference looks to be a crap shoot with the better teams beating each other. The rest of the league? Not so much as the other 7 teams all have a losing conference and overall record. That’s right, seven teams in a conference of 11 have losing records. Who needs the ACC when you can have the SoCon?
The SoCon has two divisions-North and South (there is a Civil War joke somewhere but I’ll be damned if I can find it). Appalachian State won the North division with a conference record of 15-3 and an overall record of 24-6. They had a decent out-of-conference schedule with games against Clemson, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Virginia, and Vanderbilt. What I don’t get is how do they lose to Clemson and Wake, but beat Virginia and Vandy, both of which look like tourny teams right now. App State’s only conference losses are to UNC-Greensboro, Elon, and Furman. They are in the Top 5 in all the major statistical categories, leading the league in field goal percentage and steals. They have five players who have played in all 30 games with D.J. Thompson and Nathan Cranford leading the team in minutes. They also have three of the Top 5 field-goal shooters in the league.
The second place team in the division is UNC-Greensboro with a conference record of 12-6, but an overall record of 16-13. Despite their second place finish in the North division, Greensboro is rather average in all the major categories, being next to last in assist/turnover ratio. However they are fourth in rebounding with Kyle Hines leading all players in the category. The Spartans have losses to Duke, Va. Tech, and NC State so they did play some teams o-o-c.
The rest of the teams in this division are Western Carolina (7-11, 10-19), U-T Chattanooga (6-12, 14-17), and Elon (5-13, 7-22).
In the South division Davidson is king (of the entire conference actually) with a record of 26-4 overall and going 17-1 in conference with their sole lost coming from Appalachian State. Their other three losses were all out of conference-Duke, Missouri, and Michigan. But they have some questionable games against Colby College and Mt. Saint Mary’s, neither of whom are even Division 1 teams. Those games will probably keep them out of the tourny if they don’t win the SoCon. Davidson is the class of the conference, leading the league if every major stats category with Stephen Curry first in scoring and Jason Richards first in assists. Davidson is heading into the tourny season with a 10-game winning streak.
Last but not least we have College of Charleston, with a record of 20-10 overall and 13-5 in the conference. They have losses to Davidson, App. St., and Georgia Southern in-conference and South Carolina, Kentucky, and Virginia Commonwealth o-o-c. The Cougars have twice had six-game winning streaks during the season, but started out rough going 3-6 at the beginning of the season. They’re the fifth best in rebounding and fourth best in field-goal shooting. In fact, two of their players (Jermaine Johnson and Josh Jackson) are tops in the league individually.
The rest of the teams in the division are Furman (8-10, 14-15), Georgia Southern (7-11, 14-15), Wofford (5-13, 10-19), and The Citadel (4-14, 7-22).
The top five teams all have a bye the first round of the SoCon tournament (Davidson, Appalachian State, College of Charleston, UNC-Greensboro, Furman) with Greensboro and Furman taking on each other after the first round of games. I expect Davidson to win, but wouldn’t be surprised if the hotness of App. St. pulled it off. Also the tournament is in Charleston, so C of C just might make a run with the “home-court advantage.”
Southern Conference All-Hot Team
Nathan Cranford-G, Appalachian State (Senior)
Jason Richards-G, Davidson (Junior)
David Lawrence-F, College of Charleston (Senior)
Doug McLaughlin-Williams-F, Appalachian State
Davis Browne-C, Appalachian State (Junior)