Liam JonesDespite the unpredictability that #ASunMadness usually brings, the conference's two top teams - UNF and FGCU - are destined to rematch once more this season, in the championship. With experience on their side, the Eagles will need to focus their attention on Ospreys point guard Dallas Moore. In UNF's two conference losses, Moore shot 2/9 and 5/17 from the field. I believe that with his back against the wall, Bernard Thompson has the defensive prowess to force Moore into another bad performance, earning the Eagles another NCAA birth. In addition to needing a great defensive performance from Thompson, the Eagles will need Brett Comer and Jamail Jones to stay aggressive on offense.
Cameron KaiserIn order to get back to the big dance, FGCU is going to have to be carried by the back court duo of Brett Comer and Bernard Thompson. I know it’s an obvious analysis, but as they go, the Eagles go. Both had bad games back to back against UNF and Jacksonville to finish off the season, and will need to bounce back in a big way. In particular, Thompson will need to get back to his sharp shooting ways, while Comer will need to find a way to get to the hoop. If that happens, then FGCU has a shot. Still, the team will most likely need to play their best game of the season in order to knock off the most complete team in the Atlantic Sun in North Florida.
Sterling ThomasUNF vs Lipscomb (semis): With a chance to play for an NCAA tournament berth on the line UNF will try to defend their home court and make the A-Sun Championship for the first time in four years. They will need all their scoring if they want to hold off Lipscomb, who will counter UNF with an abundance of depth. The Bison should be looking to go right at the Osprey defense and try and force some early foul trouble. If they are able to succeed in this aspect I can see the host team getting knocked off earlier than they had planned. FGCU vs USC Upstate (semis): In what has possibly been one of the best recent rivalries in the Atlantic Sun, FGCU and Upstate meet up for the third time of the season. FGCU has had a lot of recent success against Upstate, winning both matchups this season; with so much on the line, both teams will bring their A game and will play one of the best games in the conference this year. FGCU vs Lipscomb (Championship): With the championship on the line FGCU and Lipscomb meet for the right to play in the NCAA tournament. Lipscomb will try and play spoiler for the Eagles who will be looking to return to the tournament for the first time since they made the “Dunk City” run. The Eagles will need to continue to play solid defense on the perimeter and they will be dancing again this year.
Bryan CooneyIt is conference tournament time in the Atlantic Sun, with games beginning Tuesday and all eight teams in action. North Florida comes in as the favorite, dispatching FGCU quite easily in both meetings this season; but UNF fell to USC Upstate in both of their meetings this season. The Ospreys drew Stetson and Northern Kentucky/Lipscomb in their half of the bracket, a very favorable setup for UNF to advance to the A-Sun final. FGCU will have to face Jacksonville, who defeated the Eagles at home just days ago, while USC Upstate and Kennesaw State are on their side of the bracket as well. When it comes to these win or go home matchups, many stats can be thrown out the window. The best players step up in the biggest games, and the top three seeds all have players who can turn it on any given night. Beau Beech, Brett Comer, and Ty Greene are the most explosive players in the conference, and all are looking to state their case as the player of the year in the Atlantic Sun. Greene is the most dangerous player, regardless of how a defense prepares for him, because he can create his own shot from deep and get to the foul line with his craftiness. USC Upstate has gotten a rap for not playing to their competition in the past; more talented teams than this current roster have not gone as far as many predicted. I feel that Greene’s last hurrah and a battle-tested Spartan team can overcome FGCU and North Florida along the way to an A-Sun conference title. UNF’s lack of depth and FGCU’s inconsistency shooting the basketball are too glaring to cover up for their talent on their rosters, and it will be their downfalls when it really matters. I believe it is USC Upstate’s time to shine and I see them shocking the favored Ospreys on their home floor on their way to the Big Dance.