Breaking down Southern Conference basketball

June 28, 2014 

Breaking down Southern Conference men’s basketball

Scouting report

A good chunk of meat is gone from the Southern Conference men’s basketball buffet.

Davidson had pretty much owned the regular season lately, but the tournament was more wide open. The Wildcats also had a strong national reputation but really only for a four-game NCAA tournament run in 2008. Since then, when making it, they’ve been one and done, sitting out for three straight seasons and then in 2014, as well.

Wofford takes over as the top program with Chattanooga in the hunt. The last team other than Davidson, Wofford or Chattanooga to win the conference tournament? East Tennessee State in 2004, the second of two straight.

UNC Greensboro took it in 2001. College of Charleston, which left the A-Sun for the Southern Conference, won the tournament only once, in 1999.

Wofford and Mercer should provide an immediate spark in contending for the regular-season title, having established quality programs that have earned some national attention.

The Bears have familiarity with old A-Sun foe Samford, and those two had quality games. But the Bulldogs dumped their head coach in June after two years and more than a dozen transfers, including a first-team all-conference pick and have been in a rut.

The conference tournament has been successful in Asheville, North Carolina, but Davidson tended to take more fans to the tournament than everybody else pretty much averaged. ETSU’s fan base is most likely to replace a portion of that, since the Bucs had Southern Conference success and are only an hour from Asheville.

Most of the facilities have some years on them and have undergone some level of renovation. Chattanooga has hosted NCAA women’s tournament action. Mercer has the second-youngest arena. East Tennessee State will move from the creaking mini-dome to Freedom Hall, about a mile from campus, and that should only help the Bucs get back to contending. But they re-enter the Southern Conference.

Newcomer VMI had a reputation for scoring a lot of points the past several years, but the Keydets (Cameron Hall, 5,000) had only five winning overall seasons since 1984-85 and fewer winning conference seasons (Southern and Big South) until an eyebrow-raising 22-13 season last year that included a run to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament semifinals and a loss to Yale.

But barring a surprising jump, the conference race might be for third for a year or two with teams chasing Mercer and Wofford. Western Carolina might be a program to watch, and eyes will be on VMI to see if it can sustain some success.

Chattanooga

Stadium/capacity: The McKenzie Arena (10,995)

Conference championships: 17

Conference tournament championships: 10 (last in 2009)

NCAA appearances: 10, 3-10 (last 2009)

NIT appearances: 5, 3-4 (last in 1987)

Other postseason: 0-1 in CIT (2014)

Past 10 seasons:

Overall Conf.

18-15 12-4

13-19 8-10

11-21 5-13

16-16 12-6

15-18 6-12

18-17 11-9

18-13 13-7

15-18 6-12

19-13 8-6

20-11 10-6

The Citadel

Stadium/capacity: McAlister Field House/6,000

Conference championships: 0

Conference tournament championships: 0

NCAA appearances: 0

NIT appearances: 0

Other postseason: 0-1 CIT (2009)

Past 10 seasons:

Overall Conf.

7-26 2-14

8-22 5-13

6-24 3-15

10-22 6-12

16-16 9-9

20-13 15-5

6-24 1-19

7-23 4-14

10-21 1-14

12-16 4-12

Furman

Stadium/capacity: Timmons Arena/5,000

Conference championships: 5

Conference tournament championships: 6 (last in 1980)

NCAA appearances: 6, 1-7 (last in 1980)

NIT appearances: 1 (1991) 0-1

Other postseason: 0-1 in CIT (2011)

Past 10 seasons:

Overall Conf.

9-21 3-13

7-24 3-15

15-16 8-10

22-11 12-6

13-17 7-11

6-24 4-16

7-23 6-14

15-16 8-10

15-13 8-7

16-13 9-7

Samford

Stadium/capacity: Pete Hanna Center/5,000

Conference championships: 0

Conference tournament championships: 0

NCAA appearances: 2, 0-2 (last in 2000)

NIT appearances: 0

Past 10 seasons:

Overall Conf.

13-20 6-10

11-21 9-9

11-19 8-10

12-19 4-14

11-20 5-13

16-16 9-11

14-16 10-10*

16-16 12-8*

20-11 14-6*

15-13 10-6*

*Played in Ohio Valley Conference

UNC Greensboro

Stadium/capacity: Greensboro Coliseum/7,617 or 23,000

Conference championships: 2

Conference tournament championships: 1 (last in 2001)

NCAA appearances: 2, 0-2 (last in 2001)

NIT appearances: 1, 0-1 (2002)

Other postseason: 0

Past 10 seasons:

Overall Conf.

14-18 7-9

9-22 6-12

13-19 10-8

7-24 6-12

8-23 6-12

5-25 4-16

19-12 12-8

16-14 12-6

12-19 4-10

18-12 9-7

Western Carolina

Stadium/capacity: Ramsey Center/7,826

Conference championships: 2

Conference tournament championships: 1

NCAA appearances: 1, 0-1 (1996)

NIT appearances: 0

Other postseason: 0-1 CIT (2010)

Past 10 seasons:

Overall Conf.

19-15 10-6

14-19 9-9

17-18 8-10

18-15 12-6

22-12 11-7

16-15 11-9

10-21 6-14

11-20 7-11

13-17 7-7

8-22 3-13

Wofford

Stadium/capacity: Benjamin Johnson Arena/3,500

Conference championships: 2

Conference tournament championships: 3

NCAA appearances: 3, 0-3 (last in 2014)

NIT appearances: 0

Other postseason: 0-1 in CBI (2012)

Past 10 seasons:

Overall Conf.

20-13 11-5

13-19 7-11

19-14 12-6

21-13 14-4

26-9 15-3

16-14 12-8

16-16 8-12

10-20 5-13

11-18 6-9

14-14 7-9

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