2019 Southern Conference Tournament Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
I know this sounds unbelievable but it is absolutely true: the Southern Conference could end up with the same amount of NCAA Tournament teams as the Pac-12 this year.
Now, part of that statement is an indictment of just how pathetic the Pac-12 has been this year. Yet it is should also shine some light on the fact that this might have been the best collective season of basketball in SoCon history.
The Southern Conference is currently ranked as the 12th-best conference in the country. Last year it was 24th and as recently as 2014 - when Davidson was still a member - it was ranked No. 30 out of 33 leagues. The SoCon has four teams rated inside the Top 90 by several of the major metrics and for the past few weeks Wofford has represented the league in the Top 25.
The 2019 Southern Conference Tournament will take place from Friday, March 8, and conclude on Monday, March 11. The winner earns an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament, and the championship will take place in Asheville, N.C. Here is Doc's Sports 2019 Southern Conference preview and predictions, with my own projected odds:
The Favorite: Wofford (-180)
The Terriers went a perfect 18-0 in regular-season conference play, and their last loss came at Mississippi State back on Dec. 19. In fact, Wofford's only four losses this year have come against North Carolina, Oklahoma, Kansas and Miss State. Not bad. Wofford's offensive efficiency has been off the charts, as the Terriers finished in the Top 15 in the country in scoring (No. 15), field goal percentage (No. 14) and 3-point shooting (No. 2). Seniors Fletcher Magee and Cameron Jackson are a dominating one-two punch, and the Terriers have super shooters Nate Hoover, Storm Murphy and Tray Hollowell waiting to clean up with open jumpers. The Terriers have a great chance to make the NCAA Tournament even if they don't win the conference tourney. It will be interesting to see if that has any impact on Wofford's focus this weekend.
The Contender: Furman (+350)
Youth hasn't been an issue for this precocious Furman team. The Paladins beat two of last year's Final Four teams, Loyola Chicago and Villanova, the first two weeks of the season, and they have been rock solid over the last month, going 8-1 in their last nine games. Furman doesn't excel at anything; they are just good at everything. The Paladins are in the Top 60 in scoring offense, scoring defense, field goal offense, field goal defense and 3-point defense. They really pushed Wofford in both meetings this year, losing by five and eight, and I think Furman would love a third shot at the Terriers.
The Dark Horse: UNC-Greensboro (+600)
Of the four teams rated in the Top 90 - Wofford, Furman and East Tennessee State are the others - Greensboro is the lowest rated. They did give LSU everything they could handle in the nonconference. But Wofford absolutely buried the Spartans in their two meetings, winning 72-43 and 80-50. Beyond that, Greensboro quietly went 15-1 in the rest of their SoCon games to steal a favorable draw here. Greensboro won this tournament last year and made the finals two seasons ago. They have three guys - Francis Alonso, James Dickey and Demetrius Troy - that played major minutes on those teams, and that experience could be invaluable.
Early-Round Matchups To Watch:
No. 2 UNC-Greensboro (-6.5) vs. No. 7 Samford (6 p.m., Saturday, March 9)
This game assumes that Samford can survive its game with The Citadel on Friday night. Samford is a little better than its record suggests. And they have played an incredible seven overtime games this year, so there's a good chance this one could come down to the wire. Scott Padgett's team took Wofford and East Tennessee State to overtime on the road. And their two losses to UNC-Greensboro this year were both by just eight points apiece.
Southern Conference Tournament Predictions: Wofford is walking a tightrope. They are a rare SoCon team ranked in the Top 25. Rarer still, they were perfect in Yet they are not so physically dominating that they can be expected to just roll the ball out and sweep their way to the tournament title. This team is likely already in the NCAA Tournament field. The others in the SoCon know the only way they can dance is to win this tournament. It is tough to beat a team three times in a season. Wofford will have to do it twice if they are to win the tournament. I will call for an upset. I think that a team other than Wofford will cut down the nets and set up an interesting subplot for Selection Sunday.
Robert Ferringo is a member of the Basketball Writer's Association of America and a professional sports handicapper for Doc's Sports. He is considered one of the best college basketball handicappers in the country and has posted 10 of 12 winning seasons. He is looking for a monster March run and will have an 8-Unit Conference Tournament Game of the Year next week. You can sign up for his college basketball picks and get more information here .
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