While the Atlantic Sun is just one poached team away from disintegration the eight team conference does enjoy one of the easiest brackets to follow in college hoops. The quarterfinals kickoff Thursday evening with four games, all of which will be broadcasted on ESPN3.
#8at #1 North Florida Osprey, 7:30 PM
Monday was a happy day for the North Florida Osprey as they took home a lot of hardware for their 20-11 season this year. Matt Driscoll was named the ASun Coach of the Year while Dallas Moore and Beau Beech were named 1st Team All-Conference selections. The Osprey now will turn around and play a Stetson team they just beat 86-71 at home on Saturday.
North Florida swept the Hatters this year by 15 points in each game and will enter tonight's contest as a 17.5 point favorite. Five Osprey went for double-figures on Saturday lead by 21 points from Beech. Don't count out the young, scrappy Stetson team that features ASun 2nd teamer Kentwan Smith and all-freshman members Divine Myles and Grant Lozoya. The x-factor from the Hatters might be another freshman in Angel Rivera who dropped 22 on the Osprey on Saturday.
North Florida should cruise to a win in the Coop tonight but weird things happen in conference tournaments, especially when teams have to play the same opponent back-to-back.
#7at #2 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, 7 PM
Jacksonville visiting Florida Gulf Coast is yet another quick turnaround rematch between two teams that matched up on Saturday. FGCU lost the one seed last week falling twice, including a signature win for Tony Jasick and the rebuilding Dolphins to close the year. Dunk City will be looking for a little revenge after falling at Jacksonville 75-67 just a few days ago.
You have to think Joe Dooley will be focused in on sophomore Marcel White who burned the Eagles from downtown on Saturday and posted 19 points. He'll also have a eye on ASun 2nd teamer Kori Babineaux who went for 18 points and 7 assists on Saturday including an 8-for-8 performance from the charity stripe.
Usually for FGCU you'd talk about Brett Comer, Jamail Jones, and company but the Eagles have to hit the boards Tuesday night to be successful. Jones and Bernard Thompson have to step up and hit the boards hard to make sure there isn't a repeat of Saturday down in Fort Myers.
The Eagles are a 14 point favorite but obviously Jacksonville has shown they hang with the Eagles. The good news for FGCU fans is that this team likely won't get caught looking ahead because of the loss just a few days ago.
#6 Kennesaw State Owls at #3, 7 PM
Kennesaw State fans likely have nightmare back to February 7 when USC Upstate came to visit and drubbed the Owls to the tune of a 74-46 victory for the Spartans. Will we see that version of the Owls tonight or the team that competed at Upstate in a 68-65 loss earlier this season?
Upstate comes into Tuesday night as a 15 point favorite and all eyes will be on Atlantic Sun Player of the Year Ty Greene who has averaged 19.5 points against the Owls this season. Fred Miller should also be more of a factor after going an ice cold 1-for-9 against KSU back in that 28 point win in February. The Owls need to stop those two offensively and also keep Michael Buchanan off the boards as he's grabbed 19 rebounds against KSU this year already.
No one finished in double-figures for the Owls back in the February match up and KSU has to get Yonel Brown and Nigel Pruitt going at the very least to have any kind of a shot in this one. If not Upstate will be moving on.
#5 Lipscomb Bisons at #4 Northern Kentucky Norse, 7 PM
The two 7-7 teams will face off just outside of Cincinnati tonight in what has been a weird series this year. Lipscomb won on their home court by 19 points way back on January 10. NKU then got revenge in Highland Heights with a 17 point win on February 7. So what will happen tonight with a lot more on the line?
Vegas says that the host Norse are a 7 point favorite, but this is most certainly expected to be the tightest game of the night. ASun 2nd teamers Jalen Billups and Tayler Persons will be the focus of Casey Alexander and Lipscomb tonight. Billups has gone for a combined 29 points against the Bisons this year.
NKU may have the tougher task when it comes to individual match ups though as they'll need to slow down ASun First teamer Josh Williams who has dropped 45 points against the Norse thus far this year. The rather small Bisons squad will need to step up with the absence of Malcolm Smith.
Any way you slice it this should be a good one in the Bank of Kentucky Center.