What-to-know tourney previews: Atlantic Sun
Belmont ruled over the Atlantic Sun for most of the past seven years or so. But the Bruins left for the Ohio Valley, opening up the field to 10 programs.
1. Wasn't this Belmont's league?
Yep. Belmont ruled over the Atlantic Sun for most of the past seven years or so. But the Bruins left for the Ohio Valley, opening up the field to 10 programs. It's good in a way, because it opens up the chance for the league to get a new representative. Half the conference has never been to the NCAA tournament.
2. So who's the best?
With Belmont no longer able to defend a title here, Mercer stepped in and became the premier program in the A-Sun. The Bears won just their second regular-season championship in the conference this season; the previous one came exactly 10 years ago. But as for tourney berths, Mercer has only won twice: in 1981 and 1985. This season, Mercer has the best pair of wins in the league, over Bama and FSU, but Florida Gulf Coast's 109 RPI is tops in the A-Sun -- and FGCU has a victory over the Miami Hurricanes, which remains among the most vexing results from this season.
3. But is this an anyone-can-win-it kind of league?
I'd say yes. The biggest reason for that is, although Mercer has the best team, it doesn't have one of the best players. South Carolina Upstate, Stetson and Florida Gulf Coast all have offenses that can compete. Mercer's defense is elite for this level, and that's why it won the league by a game over FGCU. For more info on the impact players:
Schedule: All games at Mercer Arena in Macon, Ga. March 6-7 (quarterfinals); March 8 (semifinals); March 9 (championship).
Title game: Saturday, March 9, at noon ET on ESPN2.
THREE BEST PLAYERS
- Sherwood Brown (Florida Gulf Coast)
- Torrey Craig (USC Upstate)
- Eshaunte Jones (Northern Kentucky)
Conference RPI: 26
KenPom.com rating: 25
Sagarin rating: 25
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