Do you enjoy thrillers where every scene leads you to an unexpected twist? Or maybe a book by Jeffrey Deaver where there is no way to figure out “who done it” until the very end because it always seems to be the guy in the corner of the coffee shop reading the paper in chapter 3?
If that is you, then you are loving the men’s basketball race in the Atlantic Sun Conference this year. Our league boasts the nation’s tightest race for the regular season title [Division I Conference standings – ESPN.com ]. It has been a topsy-turvy ride that sees five teams within ½ game of league co-leaders Belmont and Lipscomb.
“From the beginning of the season I've thought that there were several teams that had a chance to win the league. With five teams within half a game of each other, the league certainly has a lot of parity,” said Lipscomb head coach Scott Sanderson.
While you are pondering that, check out the highlights from last week’s action on the hardwood.
Let’s take a quick look back and we can see some of the twists and turns. Campbell shot out of the gates at 6-1 and claimed a spot as a surprise title contender. About this time, Jacksonville righted the ship and reeled off a nine-game conference winning streak to surge into first place. Then, the Music City bullies of Belmont and Lipscomb both handed the Dolphins losses to get us to today.
“I doubt that the closeness of our race is a surprise to any of the coaches in league. It reflects the many close games we have all had during the season. It is great for the fans of Atlantic Sun basketball.,” Belmont coach Rick Byrd said.
Let’s say all four of those teams are title contenders. Who else is out there? Don’t forget about defending champ ETSU whose season has been a microcosm of the entire league. Despite three conference losses at homes, the Bucs are in the cluster of teams hovering near the top of the standings and feature a double-double machine in Tommy Hubbard and one of the league’s hottest players the last two weeks in Isaiah Brown. Kennesaw State just saw a six-game winning streak snapped so they’ve earned the right to be in the conversation. Mercer won five-straight earlier in the year and are hosting the tournament, plus with a senior-laden squad emotion will already be on their side. Finally, UNF owns victories over both Belmont and Lipscomb this year.
It’s going to be a page-turner until the end. We hope you get out and support your favorite team or watch them on ASun.TV down the stretch.
Who do you think will win the regular season title? What will the regular season champs’ record be at the end of the day on February 27?