ESPN guru Joe Lunardi has released his latest Bracketology, in which he places the Mercer Bears as A-Sun tournament champion in the No. 15 seed in the West Regional, while defending A-Sun champion Belmont is included on his list of the First Four Out.
The Bruins join Xavier, Washington and Northwestern in the First Four Out. The Bears are a new addition to the bracket, while Belmont’s status seems to indicate some post-season at-large consideration if the Bruins fail to win the conference championship. In the Feb. 10 edition of Bracketology, Lunardi had Belmont as the No. 14 seed in the Midwest Region. The latest RPI has Belmont up 11 spots to 79 and Mercer down three spots at 102.
Mercer and Belmont share identical records (20-7, 12-2 A-Sun) with four conference games remaining. The final regular season game in Macon, Ga., on Feb. 25 between Mercer and Belmont could potentially determine the regular season champion and top seed in the upcoming 2012 General Shale A-Sun Basketball Championships. Belmont has won four of the last six A-Sun tournament championships, while Mercer last played in the championship game in 2010, losing to ETSU. The championships will be hosted by Mercer University at the University Center, Feb. 29 – March 3, 2012.
MORE ON MERCER
With its 20 wins, Mercer has clinched its fourth 20-win season in the past 33 years. The Bears last reached the win plateau in 2002-03 with 23 victories en route to the program’s only A-Sun regular-season title. In the 1984-85 season, Mercer won 22 games and captured the conference tournament title.
During Mercer’s current nine-game win streak, the Bears are holding opponents to .240 percent (39-of-162) from three-point range. During conference play, Mercer’s opponents are shooting only .267 from behind the arc, which leads the A-Sun and is the lowest since the 2006-07 season. More on Mercer basketball
MORE ON BELMONT
With 50 wins over the past two seasons, Belmont is tied for the ninth-best two-year win total in A-Sun history. The Bruins need four more wins this season to tie College of Charleston (1995-97) for the best two-year stretch in conference history. The Bruins already own three of the Top-10 marks in A-Sun history. More on Belmont Basketball
Belmont’s Mick Hedgepeth is one of 10 NCAA® men’s basketball student-athletes who are finalists today for the 2011-12 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. More on Hedgepeth