Championship Week Preview- Atlantic Sun, Patriot League
Another pair of Conference Tournaments begin tonight, the Atlantic Sun Conference and Patriot League.
ATLANTIC SUN PREVIEW
3 Players to Watch
Adnan Hodzic (Lipscomb)- Dominated the Atlantic Sun in route to achieving the Conference Player of the Year honors. 1st in the A-Sun in scoring (22.5 ppg) and 2nd in rebounding (8.8 rpg).
Ben Smith (Jacksonville)- For four seasons, Smith has put it all on the floor. Smith is only 5’10, but he plays big and tough. 2nd in the league in scoring (19.5 ppg), 6th in assists (3.66 apg), and 2nd in steals (2.10 spg). He has a great stroke from the outside.
Jonathen Rodriguez (Campbell)- As a sophomore, he was named the A-Sun Player of the Year by midmajority.com. Now a senior, Rodriguez averaged 17.3 ppg and 8.2 rpg.
Projected Championship Game– 2. Jacksonville (18-11) (14-6) vs 4. Campbell (19-10) (14-6)
The tournament is wide open as any of 5 teams can win it. There was a four way tie for first as Lipscomb, Jacksonville, Belmont and Campbell each finished with 14-6 records in the league. East Tennesssee State finished 13-7.
Last season, Jacksonville won the regular season crown, but lost to East Tennessee State in the Atlantic Sun Title Game. They have not made the NCAA Tournament since 1986 when former Orlando Magic player Otis Smith starred.
The Dolphins are a solid rebounding team, leading the league in rebounding margin. Ben Smith does most of the scoring, but Lehmon Colbert is a nice complement inside. Colbert made the 2nd team all-conference.
Campbell leads the A-Sun in scoring defense at 63.0 ppg. They force over 18 turnovers a game, and they lead the league in turnover margin at +4.07. Rodriguez is the star. The Camels have 2 guys in the top 5 in steals, Junard Hartley (2.62 spg) and Lorne Merthie (1.9 spg). Merthie is an adept outside shooter, canning approximately 43% of his 3 point attempts.
Prediction– Jacksonville, The Dolphins are on a mission after losing the Championship Game last year. Ben Smith will put Jacksonville on his back and get the job done.
Projected NCAA Tournament Seed– Jacksonville (16)
TOURNAMENT BRACKET- http://www.atlanticsun.org/mbasketball/news/102/4197/
PATRIOT LEAGUE PREVIEW
3 Players to Watch
CJ McCollum (Lehigh)- The first player to win Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year in the same season. He’s a complete player who can score (18.8 ppg), rebound (4.8 rpg), dish the rock (2.3 apg), get in the passing lane (1.1 spg), and stroke it (43.4% 3pt).
Chris Harris (Navy)- Led the league in scoring (21.1 ppg) and steals (2.0 spg)
Kyle Roemer (Colgate)- Finished 2nd in scoring (18.9 ppg).
Projected Championship Game- 1. Lehigh (19-10) (10-4) vs 3. Lafayette (17-12) (8-6)
In football, this match-up is known as “The Rivalry.” Well, on the floor, there is a good possibility these two fierce rivals can meet in the Patriot League Title Game for the first time ever.
This is the first year Lehigh has ever won the regular season Patriot League Title. They want to turn that into their first Patriot League Tournament Title. The Mountain Hawks should be on top of the standings for the next couple of seasons with freshman guard CJ McCollum. G Zahir Carrington and F Marquis Hall made the 2nd Team All-Conference. They are both seniors.
Lafayette is led by F Jared Mintz. He led the league in field goal percentage (55.6%) and free-throw percentage (87.5%). This has been a tremendous season for Lafayette after posting an average of 19 losses a year the past 5 seasons.
Prediction– Lehigh, the Mountain Hawks have a nice core in McCollum, Carrington and Hall. Plus, Lehigh would play at home as the highest remaining seed.
Projected NCAA Tournament Seed– Lehigh (16)