Area college teams ready for the madness

Who can’t wait for their conference tournaments to start?

Fort Valley State’s women eagerly await the SIAC gathering in Birmingham, Ala., where they are the top seed after finishing the regular season perfect in conference play.

Mercer’s women are anxious, having finished a sweep of A-Sun top seed East Tennessee State with a 90-79 win Saturday in Johnson City, Tenn.

Georgia College & State’s men have one two-point loss in their final five games of the regular season in Peach Belt Conference play to enter as the No. 4 seed.

They want to keep that momentum going.

FVSU’s men hope to show that they’re substantially better than their 12-15 record. After all, the Wildcats followed a 1-4 stretch with a 3-1 finish to the regular season, one in which they lost 11 games by single digits and two in overtime.

Interested in erasing some sour tastes are Mercer’s men and GCSU’s women.

The Bears lost three of their final four, with two defeats coming by 21 and 22 points. GCSU’s women are on a three-game losing streak, two by three points each.

All start conference tournament play this week, with at least five of the six teams playing on Thursday.

FVSU’s men finished in a tie with Clark Atlanta, Albany State and Miles, all at 12-12. The SIAC hadn’t released pairings Sunday night, but brackets have two games, No. 8 vs. No. 9 and No. 12 vs. No. 13, being played on Wednesday.

The Lady Wildcats will leave an early wakeup call to play at 11 a.m. on Thursday against the winner of an earlier game.

Mercer’s women and men play back-to-back Thursday in the A-Sun tournament at Lipscomb in Nashville, the women against Stetson at 1 p.m. and the men against Belmont at 3:30 p.m.

GCSU has the shortest road trip, less than two hours to Aiken, S.C. Bobcats fans have one game in between the men’s 3 p.m. battle with North Georgia and the women’s prime-time tussle at 7 p.m. with host USC Aiken on Thursday.

All six teams are hungry. The shortest tournament championship drought belongs to GCSU’s women, the last one to win their conference tournament. They beat Francis Marion 89-83 in overtime to win the 2006 tournament.

GCSU’s men hope to break a decade-long spell without the championship, last winning it in 1999.

FVSU’s women are on the longest streak without a tournament title since Lonnie Bartley took over in the mid-1980s. The Lady Wildcats haven’t won it since 2003, five seasons after the Wildcats last took home the trophy.

The trophy case has been inactive at Mercer for a long time.

The women have reached the tournament championship only once, losing to Florida International 77-52 in 1993.

No player on the men’s team was alive when the Bears beat Arkansas-Little Rock in 1985 to reach the NCAAs.

FVSU’s women are nationally ranked at No. 23 in last week’s USA Today/ESPN Division II poll. GCSU’s men are No. 4 in the NCAA’s Southeast Region, while the women are No. 7.