Conference play got off to a roaring start on Saturday, as Furman, ETSU and Mercer were very impressive in wins, and Wofford was good enough at home. The ugliest win on Saturday belonged to Chattanooga, the team most favor to win the Southern Conference heading into conference play.
This week will feature two nights of conference action and next week has three game nights. In other words, some teams will have played six games in SoCon play by the end of the next two weeks. The season will be 1/3 of the way over for some teams.
That means right now is a critical time for SoCon teams. It is time to play well and keep on going at a high level.
Let's take a look at some of the headlines for Tuesday night's contests.
Best Teams Square Off- Chattanooga and Mercer battle in Tennessee. The two best teams in the conference are in one building and battling for the early season upper hand. The two will battle in Macon on February 8. Between now and then, the winner of this game will be the one most people view as the best team in the conference. The Mocs looked less than impressive against The Citadel in their first game, while Mercer looked really sharp against Samford.
Furman, Wofford Look To Follow It Up- Furman absolutely demolished VMI on Saturday afternoon, and Wofford followed up with a double digit win over UNCG in the evening. Now, the two have switched opponents and are both going on the road. VMI has to have a better showing and they will get a chance at home against Wofford. The Keydets confidence must be shaken, and now it is really interesting to see what happens when they host the two time reigning champs. UNCG is just 1-10 against D1 competition, and heading into Saturday, Furman appeared to be a very winnable home game. After what the Paladins did to VMI, UNCG's chances appeared to take a hit. Can the Spartans rebound? Can Furman and Wofford improve to 2-0? This is a huge night for all four of these schools looking to find their place in the SoCon pecking order.
How Good is Samford? The question has been percolating for a while, but the win against Nebraska seemed to answer it to some degree. Then the performance at Mercer happened, and the question has to be asked again. How good is Samford? We just don't know. The fans are remarkably realistic about their standing, but this team appeared to be a team that could contend for a SoCon title, but they didn't show up in Macon. The program is building and probably will be better in the future, but if they are a program ready to be a contender this year for the SoCon title, they should be able to handle The Citadel at home.
ETSU, Western Carolina Take A Day Off- The two matched up in Cullowhee on Saturday, and the Bucs were dominant. The Catamounts could use a day off after that, and will get back into action on Saturday. ETSU played out of conference on Monday and will get back into a conference game on Saturday.
Attendance- Who is going to show up to see VMI or UNCG on Tuesday night? Both teams have had disappointing seasons so far and they did not start off conference play they wanted to. Now, they get another chance against Wofford and Furman. The fans may not show up on Tuesday to show their displeasure. It will be interesting to see what it looks like on Tuesday night in those arenas.