Southern Conference play is merely nine games old. Yet, there are already just three unbeaten teams, and we will be down to a maximum of two by the end of Monday, which will feature nine more conference games.
It is a critical nine days in conference play. Over the next nine days, there will be eighteen conference games.
Over the next nine days, UNCG, VMI, Mercer and The Citadel play three games. The remaining six conference teams play four games. That means that Chattanooga, Samford, Furman and Wofford (since ETSU and Western Carolina have each already had one game off) will have played a full third of their conference schedule by next Saturday.
In other words, by next weekend, the conference race will really be much more clear than it is right now. Right now, with so few games played it is really difficult to determine where teams stand. By the end of next weekend, there will still be plenty of questions, but there will also be a lot more answers.
Let's look at the headlines for Saturday's action.
Mocs-Paladins Rematch. Furman played three very memorable games in last year's Southern Conference tournament. The first was in the quarterfinals against Chattanooga, when the Paladins shocked the Mocs and advanced to the semifinals. In some ways, this is the game that the Mocs have been pointing to since last March- a chance to avenge their loss to the Paladins. This game is in Greenville, and is very important to Furman as well. It is a chance for Furman to put themselves on the map in this year's SoCon race. This game is on Fox Sports and is a nice feature game for the conference.
ETSU looks for revenge. A year ago, UNCG walked into Johnson City a struggling club, and came up with a shocking upset and beat the Bucs. This year, the Spartans walk in a struggling team coming off a dramatic win. Can Wes Miller continue the rebound? Can his team come up with their second straight upset at ETSU? The Bucs want revenge as well. They are 1-0 in SoCon play, and are looking to continue building their momentum this weekend. ETSU could be one of the top teams in the Socon, but they need to prove that they can win games they should like this one.
Another chance for Samford, The Citadel. Last weekend, Samford was blown out on the road against Mercer as they tried to prove they belonged in the SoCon race. The Citadel lost a tight home game against conference frontrunner Chattanooga. Now, both teams get chances against top teams again. Samford heads on the road to take on Wofford, another of the top teams in the SoCon. The Citadel is at home again- this time against the perceived second best team in the conference, Mercer. Can either Samford or The Citadel come up with defining moments for their seasons?
No match-ups of 1-1 teams. In a strange fluke, there is no match-ups between the four 1-1 teams. UNCG goes to ETSU, Furman hosts Chattanooga, Samford goes to Wofford and Mercer goes to The Citadel. There is no match-up of undefeated teams, as Chattanooga, ETSU and Wofford all don't play each other. The only match-up between teams with the same number of wins is Western Carolina hosting VMI. The Catamounts and Keydets both are winless. They both really need to get a crooked number in the win column this weekend.
Can Mercer rebound? The Bears will need to get over losing to Chattanooga on Tuesday and not get beat twice by the Mocs. The Mercer-Chattanooga game was an emotional game between the top two contenders to win the title, and the Bears came up short, but they can't let one loss turn to two when they to The Citadel this weekend. They should not lose this one, but if they come out unprepared, stranger things have certainly happened.