ETSU’s men’s and women’s basketball teams ended their regular season over the weekend. With Atlantic Sun Conference play over, both teams head to post-season tournaments as a long shot to make it past the first round.
The men’s team heads to Macon, Ga., as a six seed in the conference tournament and will face three-seed Stetson in their first round game on Thursday, March 7.
The Lady Bucs go into Macon a seventh seed and will have to face the No. 2-seeded Stetson Mad Hatters.
Combined, the men’s and women’s teams went 1-3 against the Hatters during the season with the men earning the solo win, a 62-61 victory on Stetson’s home court.
Below are tournament previews for both the men’s (top) and women’s (bottom) conference tournaments with the top four seeds and ETSU.
No. 1 Mercer
With home-court advantage, a No. 1 seed and a 20-win season behind them, the Mercer Bears are reeking of high expectations.
The Bears do not have a player in the top-10 scoring, top-10 field goal percentage, or the top-10 in rebounding, but what this team is built around is defense. Mercer is the top A-Sun competitor in scoring defense, holding teams to an average of 57 points per contest, and topping the list in scoring margin with a +7 point differential.
This grit-and-grind team will take on Lipscomb in the first round of the tournament on Thursday.
No. 2 FGCU
The Eagles are soaring in offensive production this season. FGCU holds the conference lead in scoring offense with 72.7 points per game leading to its 21-10 record. The team as a whole is also shooting a staggering .462 percentage from the field further inflating their point total.
FGCU has key victories against Mercer and USC Upstate and should be expected to make some quick work of a North Florida team that the team defeated twice in the season series.
No. 3 Stetson
Stetson is coming into the tournament off one of its best season in recent years. It has recorded the most victories and conference wins since the 2007-08 season. The Hatters won four straight games nearing the end of the season, including wins over FGCU and NKU, before dropping its season finale to Mercer at home, 77-65.
Stetson has a good chance to gain a victory against a flat Bucs team behind the offensive production of junior Chris Perez and senior Adam Pegg, each of whom averaged 16 points a game during the regular season.
No. 4 Jacksonville
The Dolphins are coming into the tournament off three straight losses, which dropped the team to below .500 on the season at 14-17. Jacksonville is also ranked in the bottom tier of every major statistical category for A-Sun teams. But one thing JU can hang its hat on is the fact that if it meets Mercer in the second round, things could be very interesting. The ‘Phins defeated the Bears at home 49-47 on Jan. 12 and then took them down to the wire in Macon in a 67-64 OT defeat.
No. 6 ETSU
ETSU is coming off a rough regular season. On Friday night, the Bucs suffered their worst conference lost ever to USC Upstate at home. The Spartans rolled ETSU 88-56, giving the blue and gold 21 losses on the season. That mark ties the 1986-87 Buccaneer team for most losses in program history.
“I didn’t see it coming. We won our last game at Jacksonville, and we had a great week of practice,” head coach Murry Bartow said. “It’s pretty obvious we got whipped in every aspect of the game.”
ETSU will open the tournament with a matchup against Stetson. The Bucs split the season series with Stetson and may have a chance to progress to the second round – that is if ETSU can limit their inconsistencies.