Atlantic Sun Tournament Preview

26 Feb

#1 North Florida (21-10,10-4) vs #8 South Carolina-Upstate (10-21,4-10)

Season series: North Florida 1-0 (78-62)

The high octane Ospreys are looking to repeat as Atlantic Sun tournament champs.  The top seed puts up over 85 points per game and dishes out over 16 assists per game.  Their rotation is just seven deep but five of those players average double figures, led by junior Dallas Moore and his 19.7 points and 6.1 assists.  They started the year by beating Illinois and began conference play by winning seven straight before losing their four conference games in succession with three of them being on the road.  They finished the regular season with three straight wins including an 81-80 win over Jacksonville to secure the #1 seed.

The Spartans struggled all year long.  They didn’t get a win over a division 1 team until December 14 over Navy.  They won just four games in conference and those wins were by a total of six points.  Deion Holmes (12.2) and Michael Buchanan (11.6) are the only players in double figures in scoring but for a team that ranks 300th in points allowed North Florida is a less than optimal opponent.

#4 Florida Gulf Coast (17-13, 8-6) vs #5 Kennesaw State (11-19, 7-7)

Season series: FGCU swept (79-74,68-63)

They may not be the Dunk City Florida Gulf Coast Eagles of the past but they still put up 76.6 points per game and are led by junior forward Marc Eddy Norelia and his 17.1 points and nine rebounds for the team that ranks 35th in rebounds per game .

The numbers may not be all that impressive for Al Skinner’s Owls but they finished .500 in conference for the first time in their history and finished the year winning six of their last eight including wins over Jacksonville and North Florida.  The Owls do have two prolific scorers with their starting backcourt of Kendrick Ray and Yonel Brown combine for 37.5 of the team’s 72.5 points per game.

#3 Jacksonville (16-15,8-6) vs #6 Lipscomb (11-20,7-7)

Season series: Split (Jacksonville 76-73, Lipscomb 93-91)

The Dolphins limp their way into the A-Sun tournament.  After beginning conference play 7-2 but enter post-season play losers of four of their last five.  Kori Babineaux and Marcel White lead Jacksonville offensively with 34.1 points, 10.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.

The Lipscomb Bison may have won just two games over division 1 teams during their non-conference schedule, but once familiar foes rolled around, wins came at a faster clip including season splits with the league’s top four teams.  Offensively the Bison are solid putting up over 78 points per game led by J.C. Hampton’s 15.5 the issue is on the defensive end where they give up a near-the-bottom 80.8 points per contest.

#2 New Jersey Institute of Technology (17-13,8-6) vs #7 Stetson (10-21,4-10)

Season series: NJIT swept (71-59, 74-70)

This is an interesting matchup with first-year conference member NJIT facing a Stetson squad that is ineligible for post-season play due to poor academics.  Damon Lynn leads the Highlanders with 18.1 points.

The Hatters finished with just four conference wins but two of them came over North Florida and Florida Gulf Coast.  Much like Lipscomb, Stetson can score, their 79.8 points are 33rd best in the country but give up nearly 84 points on defense.  They are led offensively by freshman Derrick Newton’s 15.4 points and Brian Pegg’s double-double; 12.6 points and 10 rebounds.

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