We are getting to that time. Conference Tournament play begins today (for only the Atlantic Sun) and you can begin to feel that angst building up as we near Selection Sunday. For conferences like the Atlantic Sun, it is essential for your team to win their respective conference to be able to make the tournament. There are no at-large bids for Atlantic Sun teams. NONE.
All four 1st Round games for the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament will begin today and those games are as follows:
1 Florida Gulf Coast vs. 8 Stetson
2 Lipscomb vs. 7 NJIT
3 North Florida vs. 6 Jacksonville
4 S.C. Upstate vs. 5 Kennesaw State
(All games can be seen on ESPN3)
So, let’s address the major question:
Who will win the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament?
Let’s start with the one team that has almost no chance: NJIT. NJIT has really struggled since Damon Lynn went down for the season. Tim Coleman has done an admirable job as the leader of the team, but Shyquan Gibbs is just not ready yet to take on the heavy load that was left with Lynn’s absence.
North Florida is an interesting team. They have a very unattractive record this season of 13-18 yet have a solid conference record of 8-6. Dallas Moore is who they rely on as he is 3rd in the nation with an average of 23.8 points per game. North Florida has a combined record of 4-0 against Jacksonville and Lipscomb, there probable opponents before the championship, and Dallas Moore has been fantastic in each of those games. Expect North Florida to continue to win as long as Moore is on his game.
Lipscomb is another candidate to win the Atlantic Sun. Garrison Mathews is a terrific shooter who is leading the team in scoring and Nathan Moran has been very hot as of late having hit 13 threes in his last two games. Josh Williams and Eli Pepper are very inconsistent, but if they can bring themselves to have solid games for Lipscomb, this could be their year.
And finally, we come to the favorites to win the Atlantic Sun, Florida Gulf Coast. Coach Joe Dooley has done a fantastic job with the squad. While they are no longer the fun dunking team they once were in the NCAA Tournament when they made their historic run, they still bring some excitement to the game. After almost every timeout, there will be a play designed to get Demetris Morant an alley-oop dunk. Their starting back-court of Brandon Goodwin and Zach Johnson has been lethal while they also have a super athletic Rayjon Tucker coming off the bench. (If you ever catch a Florida Gulf Coast game, you NEEEEEEEEEEEEED to see Tucker’s dunk show in warm-ups.) Florida Gulf Coast is the most talented team in the Atlantic Sun and should win this conference tournament and make their way into the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Prediction: Florida Gulf Coast