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Lipscomb tops the week six ASUN power rankings

There’s a new sheriff in town, and his name is Garrison Mathews.

NCAA Basketball: Lipscomb at Tennessee Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Since the opening weekend of college basketball back in early November, most ASUN teams have had up-and-down seasons. There have been a few impressive games htus far in the non-conference slate, but plenty of disappointing losses too.

We begin with the teams that have struggled the most.

8. Jacksonville Dolphins (4-8)

The Dolphins have been relying on young players this season, and have had plenty of disappointing losses. Their only wins have come against Fairfield, Gardner Webb and a couple of non-Div. I teams. The Dolphins really haven’t shown anything this season that convinces me they can even get back to their sixth-place finish from a season ago.

7. Kennesaw State Owls (2-10)

It was close, but the Owls just beat out Jacksonville for the seventh spot in this week’s power rankings. The Owls have had a much tougher non-conference schedule than JU, and beat Bethune Cookman, which the Dolphins lost to. However, the only other win came against Div. III Piedmont College. An offense averaging just under 68 points per game has been one of the main reasons why Kennesaw State has struggled, and the Owls will need to improve on that if they hope to be more competitive than last year in conference play.

6. USC Upstate Spartans (4-10)

Early in the season, the Spartans looked like they might be a solid team because they kept the score close in losses to Georgia and Minnesota. Ever since then, USC Upstate has either beaten bad teams or gotten crushed. Now, I’m not saying that the decision to leave the ASUN in 2018 is why Upstate is struggling so much, but I’m not not saying that either.

5. Stetson Hatters (7-6)

I’ll give credit to the Hatters, they’ve definitely played better than most people expected. Numerous losing seasons with no end in sight seemed to point towards more of the same in 2017-18, but that hasn’t entirely been the case thus far. Led by Divine Myles and B.J. Glasford, the Hatters have beaten more Div. I opponents than most other teams in this conference can say. Maybe this is the season that the erratic Stetson Hatters compete throughout league play.

4. North Florida Ospreys (5-8)

The Ospreys will continue to get the benefit of the doubt because of their track record under Matthew Driscoll. He’s built a solid program at UNF since his arrival in 2009, and even last year snuck into the conference championship game while remaining under .500 for the whole year. Don’t be fooled by the sub-.500 record, newcomers Ivan Gandia-Rosa and Noah Horchler are leading a formidable ASUN squad down in Jacksonville.

3. NJIT Highlanders (6-6)

Anthony Tarke, the most recent ASUN player of the week, along with Abdul Lewis and Diandre Wilson, has led the Highlanders to a .500 record, and kept the score close on the games where they’ve lost. First-year coach Brian Kennedy has his team on the right track to compete with a new 3,500 seat arena, and a conference where the middle of the pack teams fluctuate from year to year.

2. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (7-5)

I do still believe that FGCU is the most talented team in this conference, but the Eagles have not been playing like it recently. In fact, they’ve played nowhere near the level that Eagle fans have been accustomed to. The two losses to Middle Tennessee aren’t horrible because the Blue Raiders are one of the best mid-major programs in the country. Home losses to FAU and Oral Roberts, on the other hand, are inexcusable from a team trying to win the ASUN for the third year in a row. The Eagles do have plenty of upcoming opportunities to show they are still the best team in the ASUN, highlighted by road games against Wichita State this Friday and Rhode Island next Wednesday.

1. Lipscomb Bisons (8-4)

While FGCU has struggled against inferior opponents, the Bisons have continued to solidify themselves as a legitimate threat to win the ASUN’s auto-bid for the NCAA Tournament. Lipscomb didn’t just back its way into this first spot in the power rankings because of FGCU’s struggles, the Bisons earned it. Garrison Mathews and Rob Marberry have led the way for Lipscomb, as they’ve won four of their last five games, and beaten rival Belmont not once, but twice. Just how good has Mathews been? He’s scored at least 20 points in each of the Bisons’ last four games. Lipscomb will look to continue its hot streak with a game at Navy on Thursday, followed by a huge road contest in West Lafayette against Purdue.

On a side note- the recent success from Lipscomb has drawn bigger crowds to Bison home games, and it would be awesome if Allen Arena could be sold out every night like Alico Arena and UNF Arena have been in past seasons.