The 2021 Southern Conference Tournament bracket
- UNC Greensboro is the top seed in the 10-team Southern Conference Tournament, which begins Thursday in Asheville, N.C.
- UNCG and Wofford have first-round byes
- Predictions for the 2021 SoCon Tourney can be found below
The 10-team Southern Conference Tournament will be held in Asheville, NC, beginning Friday, March 5, and running through Monday, March 8.
The action starts with #8 Citadel (12-11) and #9 seed Western Carolina (11-15) at 5:30 pm ET on Friday in a first-round game at Harrah’s Cherokee Center. Then #7 Mercer (15-10) and #10 Sanford (6-12) follow at 8:00 pm.
The quarterfinals are slated for Saturday, the semifinals will be held Sunday, and the championship game will be at 7:00 pm ET Monday.
In the quarterfinals, the winner of Citadel-Western Carolina plays #1 UNCG (18-8), #4 Chattanooga (18-7) squares off with #5 East Tennessee State (12-11), #2 Wofford (15-8) faces the Mercer-Sanford winner and #3 Furman (16-8) meets #6 VMI (12-11).
The winner gains an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Odds had not been released at the time this preview was published.
2021 Southern Conference Tournament Odds
|#1 UNC Greensboro||TBD|
|#5 East Tennessee State||TBD|
|#9 Western Carolina||TBD|
UNCG Gets Top Seed
UNCG happened to be the only one of the 10 teams to play its entire 18-game round-robin conference schedule during the pandemic-affected season, going 13-5. The Spartans wound up winning the regular-season title by 0.5 games over Wofford (12-5).
PHOTO GALLERY: Late night net snipping.
— UNCG Basketball (@UNCGBasketball) March 1, 2021
Isaiah Miller leads UNCG and is considered the best player in the Southern Conference, according to KenPom.com. The senior guard averages 18.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 2.6 steals a game.
Miller is third in the nation in percentage of his team’s possessions used while on the floor (34.9) and fourth in percentage of shots (35.6). He scored a career-high 32 points in a win over East Tennessee State last Saturday in the UNCG’s regular-season finale as the Spartans won three of their last four games.
In all, Miller has surpassed 20 points on 11 occasions this season and has two games with more than 30.
Isaiah Miller concludes his 11-point 1st half with a jumper at the buzzer. His 3rd such shot to end the first half and 2nd this week.
ETSU leads UNCG 31-29 at intermission. pic.twitter.com/wqnlJ2dU5g
— UNCG Basketball (@UNCGBasketball) February 27, 2021
Miller is the lone UNCG player averaging in double figures. Junior forward Mohammed Abdulsalam is averaging a team-best 7.2 rebounds.
UNCG leads the SoCon in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing 96.5 points per 100 possessions.
Wofford comes into the tournament on a three-game winning streak.
The Terriers are led by senior guard Storm Murphy, who is averaging 17.6 points and 4.4 assists. Murphy, who has nine games with at least 20 points this season, is also an ironman as he has played 87.7% of Wofford’s minutes.
Storm Murphy drawing a foul above the ark and cashing it in. 4 point play opportunity. pic.twitter.com/YPfKnSiWwe
— Anthony Patterson (@PattersonHoops) February 28, 2021
Senior guard Tray Hollowell (11.3) and sophomore forward Messiah Jones (10.0) are also double-digit scorers. Jones is also shooting 63.6% and averaging a team-high 5.2 rebounds.
Furman had won four in a row before dropping a 74-73 decision at Wofford on Saturday. The loss cost the Paladins a first-round bye.
Junior guard Mike Bothwell tops four players scoring in double digits with a 15.0 average followed by junior forward Noah Gurley (14.8), senior forward Clay Mounce (13.7) and senior guard Alex Hunter (10.9).
— Furman Basketball (@FurmanHoops) February 25, 2021
Mounce (6.3), Gurley (5.7) and Bothwell (5.0) are combined for 17.0 rebounds a game. Hunter is dishing out 3.7 assists per game.
Hunter is also shooting 40.5% on 3-pointers and Bothwell is an 83.5% free throw shooter.
Don’t Sleep on VMI
Furman, though, might have a problem getting past VMI in the quarterfinals.
The Keydets are just the sixth seed and only a game over .500 but they posted two impressive wins in February. They notched an 84-80 victory at Wofford and beat UNCG 88-77 at home.
Senior guard Greg Parham is a stat-sheet stuffer with averages of 18.6 points, 4.0 assists and 3.8 rebounds. So is junior center Jake Stephens, who is averaging 14.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
.@VMI_Basketball had a big day yesterday with a 110-103 win over The Citadel at Cameron Hall. Jake Stephens, Sean Conway and Greg Parham led VMI with at least 25 points each. Stephens and Conway also posted double-doubles. VMI has now won four straight in the series#RahVaMil🏀 pic.twitter.com/fzL3qBm30a
— VMI Athletics (@VMIAthletics) January 17, 2021
Sophomore guards Kamdyn Curfman (13.1) and Sean Conway (10.3) also have double-digit scoring averages. From beyond the arc, Curfman is making 42.4% of his shots.
VMI could be worth a small longshot wager.
And the Champion Is …
Furman finished the season strong and can fill up the basket as its 109.9 adjusted offensive efficiency topped the conference. Having to win four games in four days is a bit of an impediment but the Paladins have the talent and depth to pull it off.
John Perrotto has been covering and writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has appeared in the likes of USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and more. John is based out of Beaver Falls, PA.