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SoCon season preview: Can Furman repeat its championship run?

The Paladins punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four decades last season and enter this year as the team to beat

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-Furman vs San Diego State
JP Pegues averaged 11.9 points, 3.9 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game last season while starting all 36 games for the Paladins. The guard was also named SoCon Tournament MVP.
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Furman
  2. Western Carolina
  3. UNC Greensboro
  4. Samford
  5. East Tennessee State
  6. Chattanooga
  7. Mercer
  8. VMI
  9. Wofford
  10. The Citadel

All-Conference Team

G-JP Pegues (Furman)

F-Jermaine Marshall (Samford)

F-Marcus Foster (Furman)

G-Vonterius Woolbright (Western Carolina)

G-Keyshaun Langley (UNC Greensboro)


Player of the Year: JP Pegues (Furman)

Freshman of the Year: C Cooper Bowser (Furman)

Newcomer of the Year: Quimari Peterson (ETSU)

Defensive Player of the Year: Jermaine Marshall (Samford)

Predicting the Outcomes

Regular Season Champion: Furman

Tournament Champion: Furman

Reasonable Expectation: Round of 32

More Realistic Outcome: Opening Round Loss

The Southern Conference basketball race has been one that nearly every college basketball fan has been glued to for years, whether you’re a connoisseur of mid-major hoops or not.

From the 2018-19 through 2021-22, the SoCon remained among one of the top mid-major hoops leagues in the country. However, in 2022-23 season, the league took a bit of a dip in terms of national prestige, as it went from being the 12th-ranked league to the 20th ranked conference.

The SoCon had over 60 players transfer out from a year ago, and with another influx of talent coming into virtually every program, which provides a lot of unknowns once again. Defending champion Furman, however, has more continuity than the other teams.

The league held on a couple of years, due to some COVID seniors opting to stick around in the league, most notably Furman’s duo of guard Mike Bothwell and forward Jalen Slawson, as well as Chattanooga center Jake Stephens. All three have now moved on, getting the most out of their eligibility by staying put at the mid-major level.

Furman (28-8, 15-3 SoCon T-1st) made its return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 43 years after Bob Richey’s Paladins cut down the nets in Asheville, N.C. They also claimed the program’s first NCAA Tournament win in 49 years and second in program history with a memorable 68-67 win over the No. 4 seed and ACC regular-season champion Virginia in the opening round.

Furman’s defense forced Cavaliers senior guard Kihei Clark to throw the ball aimlessly into the air with heavy pressure in the coffin corner. That play seemed to allow the Paladins to erase the moment that haunted the program from the previous year: “the shot” by Chattanooga’s David-Jean Baptiste, which gave the Mocs a 64-63 buzzer-beating overtime win in the SoCon tournament title game.

Furman’s unsung hero of the NCAA Tournament win over the Cavaliers was Garrett Hien. After getting the steal at the end, he quickly found his roommate and SoCon Tournament MVP JP Pegues open at the right elbow for a three, which he swished through with 2.2 seconds remaining, sending the crowd into a frenzy. From that moment, the Paladins became one of the 2023 NCAA Tournament darlings. Their run ended in the Round of 32 with a decisive 75-52 loss to eventual national runner-up San Diego State.

Slawson was drafted in the second round of the NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings with the 54th pick. He was the first Paladin player selected in the NBA Draft since George Singleton was drafted into the league in 1984.

After becoming the first Southern Conference to win an NCAA Tournament game since Wofford in 2019, the Paladins will look to become the first team to repeat the feat in the SoCon since Wofford did so in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 campaigns.

Top Contenders

Furman (28-8, 15-3 SoCon/T-1st)

Though Slawson and Bothwell leave some large shoes to be filled, Richey’s Paladins welcome the return of seven of their top nine players from a year ago. In fact all the players that factored into the game-winning shot against Virginia all return to the fold for the Paladins.

Candidates to do step into top rolls for the Paladins include point Pegues (11.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG) and Foster (10.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG). Both enter the season as SoCon Player of the Year candidates. Pegues and Foster have the versatility on both ends of the floor to once again make the Paladins the favorite to cut down the nets in Asheville.

Pegues is that dude. He’s the guy with a killer instinct. He was the Southern Conference Tournament MVP after having not been chosen for the all-conference teams. During the Southern Conference Tournament, he averaged 20 PPG in three tournament games. He followed that up by making one of the biggest shots in Furman basketball history against Virginia.

His supporting cast is a good one. Foster is among the best perimeter threats in the Southern Conference and possesses the strength and power to play in the paint. His performances in road wins at East Tennessee State and at Mercer were the kind of performances that Richey will expect to see with more consistency this season. He posted 21 and 25 points in those road wins and shot a combined 11-for-17 from 3-point land.

Carter Whitt and PJ Smith, Jr. are two transfers who are expected to play big roles in the Paladins’ backcourt rotation this season.

Whitt transferred in from Wake Forest last season but didn’t play as big a role as some might of thought. The former four-star recruit played at Leesville Road High School, the same program that produced legendary former Paladin point guard Alex Hunter.

When Whitt arrived from Wake Forest, he was third in the rotation at point guard behind Pegues and Joe Anderson, who has since transferred to play for Lipscomb.

Whitt saw his playing time increase as the season wore on, which also coincided with the Paladins reeling off eight-straight wins.

Meanwhile, Smith will likely see a lot of playing time right out of the gate and perhaps as a starter alongside Pegues, giving the Paladins a backcourt that could rival any in the league. Smith, a 6-foot junior, who transferred in from Lee University after having been named the Gulf South Freshman of the Year a couple of years ago, has been a marksman from 3-point range, shooting at nearly 40% for his career. His shooting ability may be the best on the team.

In the 2022-23 season for the Lee University Flames, Smith posted 442 points and averaged 15.8 PPG, while adding 5.9 RPG, dishing out 3.8 APG and shooting 44.8% from 3-point land.

Newcomers Tommie Humphries and Eddirin Bronson will also play vital roles in the Paladin rotation this season, giving the Paladins a physical presence at guard. Humphries and Bronson come from winning programs in Tampa and Minnesota, respectively. Both are also athletic and shoot the three-ball well.

Bronson, a 6-foot-4-inch combo guard out of Tampa Catholic, drew heavy interest from Auburn and Western Michigan before deciding to take his talents to Greenville.

Rated as a three-star guard by 247Sports, Bronson likes playing defense and has a smooth perimeter jumper. He will remind Paladin fans of a guy like former standout guard Steve Harris from back in the early-mid 1990s, or more recently, Mike Bothwell. He is going to be a potential contributor right away because he’s already one of the Paladins’ top on-ball defenders.

Humphries is coming off a memorable senior season, leading Totino-Grace to a second-straight AAA Minnesota state title. The 6-foot-5-inch, 215-pound guard figures to add depth at the two or three, and his physicality will give him a chance to play right away.

The supporting cast for Richey’s Paladins is also exceptional, with guys like Garrett Hien (7.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.7 APG, 51.7% FG percentage) and Alex Williams (6.3 PPG, 2.8 RPG) expecting to be big contributors as well for the Paladins this fall.

Williams is another player that can fill it up from long-range. He put together some strong performances in the Bahamas over the summer to follow up off his strong performances in the Southern Conference Tournament and down the stretch run of the 2022-23 season off the bench for the Paladins.

Williams was one of three Paladins in double figures in the NCAA Tournament loss to San Diego State, as he finished with 11.

Hien does just about everything well, as he is one of the team’s better passers, as well as being a highly efficient shooter from 3-point range, shooting 35.1%. His career-high 20-point effort helped the Paladins to a demonstrative early-season 69-52 win over South Carolina in the Charleston Classic.

Major contributions will also be expected from Ben VanderWal (4.8 PPG, 3.1 RPG), who has spent a lot of time working on his perimeter jumper during the off-season. His athleticism and ability as a rebounder on both ends will see him even have the potential to garner starter minutes this season for the Paladins.

Other than Smith, the newcomer to keep an eye on is most certainly 6-foot-11-inch Cooper Bowser. He will give the Paladins athleticism as well as a rim-protector. He will be an impact player right away, and hails from Woodbridge, Va.

Since the start of the 2015-16 season, no one has posted a better overall or SoCon record than the Paladins, who have posted a 181-82 overall record, while having posted a 103-38 mark against SoCon foes.

Non-Conference Game To Watch: vs. Belmont Nov. 10

Western Carolina (18-16, 10-8 SoCon/4th)

If there is a team that can challenge Furman, it’s most certainly its purple nemesis Western Carolina. Third-year head coach Justin Gray is building something in Cullowhee, and the Catamounts nearly were the spoiler for the Paladins in the 2023 Southern Conference Tournament semifinal in Asheville as they battled to an 83-80 final in overtime.

With that said, Gray’s Catamounts figure to have one of the most dynamic backcourts in all of mid-major basketball this coming season, returning a pair of players, in Tre Jackson (15.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 42.7% 3pt FGs ) and Vonterius Woolbright (14.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 168 assists). Both figure to both be in the mix for Southern Conference Player of the Year in 2023-24.

Though the Catamounts return 72.4% of their scoring production from a year ago, the void will be in the middle of the paint as Tyzhaun Claude transferred to Georgia Tech.

Woolbright is the x-factor for this team and might be the top player overall in the league. He is a player that you can put at positions 1-4 on the floor, and at 6 feet, 6 inches, he can present some matchup problems at the point guard spot.

Also returning in the backcourt is diminutive point guard Russell Jones Jr. (2.6 PPG, 2.2 RPG), while the Catamounts also added former Mercer guard Kamar Robertson from the transfer portal. Robertson won’t have to sit out this season as a result of the SoCon’s in-league transfer rule. That’s because he has already graduated from Mercer. Robertson adds quickness and scoring ability to a backcourt already blessed with so much talent.

Another player who kind of flew under the radar for the Catamounts but was an effective scorer at times last year was DJ Campbell (5.0 PPG, 2.7 RPG). The sophomore from Hampton, Va., saw action in every game the Catamounts played last season and logged starts in 16 contests last season. He is an excellent on-ball defender, and showed that in the Catamounts’ loss to NCAA Tournament bound UNC Asheville, posting a career-best four steals.

Most of the questions for Gray’s Catamounts surround the front court, especially with the loss of Claude to Georgia Tech. With that said, Gray welcomes back versatile and athletic Bernard Pelote (5.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG) underneath the basket. Gray went to the portal and added 6-foot-10-inch College of Charleston transfer Charles Lampten (0.8 PPG, 2.0 RPG) as well as 6-foot-9-inch forward Corneilous Williams, who is still a bit of a project, but possesses raw athleticism.

Williams wore a different hue of Purple and Gold for one season as an LSU Tiger, where he was Matt McMahon’s first recruit when getting the job at LSU from Murray State. The 6-foot-9-inch, 210-pound forward helps somewhat soften the blow of the departure of the departure Claude. Williams redshirted his only season with LSU. The Meridian, Miss., product is raw, but talented and has a year of prep school under his belt at Combine Academy, where he averaged 13.2 PPG and 8.8 RPG.

One of the big man transfers to keep an eye on that will have a chance to make an impact immediately is Lampten, who comes to WCU from College of Charleston, where he spent each of the past two seasons. He helped the Cougars to an unprecedented 31 wins, a CAA title and an NCAA Tournament bid last season. The 6-foot-11-inch center saw action in 32 games and led the team with 32 blocks. He will give Gray’s Cats a defensive enforcer around the rim, which is something they have lacked consistently since maybe as far back as the days of Rans Brempong.

The reason the Catamounts can challenge Furman is due to how they are built as a basketball team. When Western Carolina knocked off the Paladins 79-67 in Cullowhee early in Southern Conference play last season, they did so because Furman had trouble matching WCU’s quickness in the backcourt, especially when Western got going downhill.

Colin Granger (2.6 PPG, 2.2 RPG) returns as one of the team’s best 3-point marksman, and he provided some key minutes off the bench last season for Gray’s Catamounts.

Western and Furman will meet in conference play on Jan. 20 at Timmons Arena, while the two will meet at the Ramsey Center in Cullowhee late in SoCon play, facing off on Feb. 28.

Non-Conference Game To Watch: Dec. 9 vs. UNC Asheville

UNC Greensboro (20-12, 14-4 SoCon/3rd)

Like Western Carolina, UNC Greensboro heads into year three of the Mike Jones era feeling like they have a little bit of unfinished business to take care of.

Much of the disappointment for the Spartans had to do with how they played down the stretch in the 2023-24 season. Jones and the Spartans had their proverbial hearts ripped out for a second-straight season in the Southern Conference Tournament with Wofford’s BJ Mack providing the final twist of the knife to send the third-seeded Spartans from Asheville home after only one day. A year earlier, UNCG’s 3-pointer to win the game rimmed out at the buzzer against No. 3 Samford, and on that occasion, the sixth-seeded Spartans couldn’t quite hold on to get the upset win.

UNCG has prided itself on defense during its run of success over the past eight seasons, which includes a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. That defensive mindset was something instilled in them by Wes Miller, and has been cultivated even more under Jones. The Spartans used that stout defensive mentality to post a 14-4 Southern Conference mark, stepping up their play on that end even more when league play commenced.

In SoCon play last season, the Spartans posted a 94.7 defensive rating to lead the SoCon. There was some distance between the Spartans and the second place team defensively in league play, which was Furman, which posted a 101.5 defensive rating in league games.

According to KenPom, UNCG and Kent State were the only two teams out of 32 total conferences to lead their respective leagues in effective field goal percentage allowed and forced turnover rate. Those statistical findings come courtesy of The Almanac’s 2023-24 College Basketball Preview.

It all starts with twins Keyshaun (14.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 41.9% 3pt) and Kobe Langley (5.1 PPG, 3.5 APG), who pride themselves on being two of the premier on-ball defenders in both the Southern Conference, as well as all of mid-major basketball. Kobe was named the SoCon’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2022-23, becoming the third different Spartan to claim that distinction.

Keyshaun will head into the 2023-24 season as one of the league’s best offensive players. He was the Spartans’ leading scorer last season, as well as leading the team in 3-point field goals as he knocked down 90 in 32 games. He shot the 3-ball at a blistering 41.9% clip.

Mikeal Brown-Jones (10.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG) was UNCG’s third-leading scorer last season, and he is also a good defender. He has power five athleticism, and as a result, can guard all five positions. He will see an increased role this season, especially with the departures of both Mohammed Abdulsalam and Bas Leyte underneath the basket.

In each of Jones’ previous two campaigns at the helm of the UNCG basketball program, he’s done arguably the best job of utilizing the portal to procure talent that fits in an area where UNCG needs it most. With a majority of the departing talent and depth lost from the front court from last season to the upcoming campaign, Jones went about adding the services of Utah Valley big man Tim Ceaser (4.1 PPG, 3.3 RPG), as well as Winston Salem State grad transfer Jaylon Gibson (12.3, 6.3 RPG), who will add some offensive prowess and rebounding bulk underneath. Six-foot-10-inch Lithuanian newcomer Domas Kazounas will add some size and skill around the basket. Ceaser is a good enough perimeter threat to draw the attention of opposing defending bigs to expend energy getting out to guard him at the 3-point line.

Non-Conference Game To Watch: at Texas Dec. 29

Best of the Rest

Samford (21-11, 15-3 SoCon)

The Samford Bulldogs continue to make large improvements under head coach Bucky McMillan (48-35), who heads into his fourth season as the head coach already having led the Bulldogs hoops program to a share of a regular-season Southern Conference crown with Furman last season. Samford is looking to climb one more rung up the ladder this season, which would be a tournament title and subsequent NCAA Tournament berth.

Should McMillan’s Bulldogs do that, it would mark the first Tourney berth for the program in 23 years. That was back when Samford was in the Atlantic Sun and under the direction of Princeton offense-crazed Jimmy Tillette. The brand and excitement have changed around the program since that last tournament trip in 2000, and a lot of that has to do with the youthful enthusiasm of McMillan and his leadership.

The most noticeable departures from that team that posted a school-record 15 conference wins last season are dynamic point guard Ques Glover and talented big man Logan Dye.

The good news is the Bulldogs get back one of the top defensive players in the Southern Conference and a player that several publications have pinned as the league’s preseason Player of the Year: Jermaine Marshall (13.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG).

The Bulldogs also have Achor Achor (6.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG) joining Marshall underneath the basket. His development as a player should show up this season with a year already under his belt. Achor is a decent passer out of the post and possesses a pretty good mid-range jumper. He will look to become a stronger perimeter threat as he was just 4-for-12 from long range last season.

The Bulldogs also have high hopes for 6-foot-11-inch center Riley Allenspach out of Providence Day School in Charlotte. Allenspach comes from an impressive family of basketball talent. He is the son of former Clemson big man Adam Allenspach, and his uncle, Brian Allenspach, played at Davidson College. Allenspach was rated a four-star recruit by ESPN out of high school and originally committed to Western Kentucky before switching to Samford.

Other reinforcements that could have an immediate impact underneath the basket this season include Baylor graduate transfer Zach Loveday. Loveday was a part of Baylor’s 2021 national championship team. During his time in Waco, the 7-foot center logged action in 38 games over the past three seasons and made appearances in 13 games off the bench during the Bears’ national championship run. He will be eligible immediately and will have a chance to be an impactful right off the bat as the man in the middle for McMillan’s Bulldogs.

In addition to losing Glover, the Bulldogs also said goodbye to veterans like Bubba Parham and Jaron Rillie. However, Samford returns AJ Staton McCray (8.2 PPG, 4.1 RPG), who could very well end up being the x-factor player in the backcourt for the Bulldogs in the upcoming season.

Non-Conference Game to Watch: at VCU Nov. 10

The Darkhorse

East Tennessee State (12-20, 8-10)

If you’re looking for a darkhorse, look no further than East Tennessee State under the direction of first-year head coach Brooks Savage.

Savage will be charged with having to replace ETSU’s two main all-conference performers in forward Jalen Haynes (14.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG) and Jordan King (15.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG).

While King led the team with 69 triples, he struggled to find scoring efficiency. Savage has attacked the transfer portal with purpose and procured some talent to help in the immediate future. He added 6-foot-10-inch forward Jadyn Parker from North Florida. He has also introduced a new guard into the fold for the Bucs: 6-foot-4-inch Ebby Asamoah from Delaware.

During his time as a Blue Hen, Asamoah played in 97 games, which included 50 starts. He scored 583 points, amassed 212 rebounds, dished out 62 assists, recorded 59 steals and blocked 35 shots. He will help right away, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

Another recent addition for the Bucs includes forward Karon Boyd, who comes to ETSU from Division II USC Aiken, where he averaged 11.2 PPG and 5.6 RPG as a freshman. He helped the perennially strong Pacers to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division II Tournament. He is a player who will likely remind Bucs fans of former standout Bo Hodges.

A point of emphasis for Savage during the recruiting process was point guard, as he attacked that spot vigorously upon being appointed to his new post as the Bucs men’s basketball coach.

Savage hit a home run with Quimari Peterson, who I have tabbed as the top incoming talent in the Southern Conference. Peterson’s quickness and court awareness at the point will instantly make the Bucs a tough out, similar to Russell Jones Jr., who provided a similar element last season at Western Carolina. His quickness and acumen as a point guard is enough to cause problems defensively for any team.

Peterson’s averaged 14.5 PPG, 5.0 APG and 4.5 RPG in the NJCAA Tournament, and he was named NJCAA Tournament MVP. For his final season with the Vols, he averaged 13.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG and dished out 4.7 APG and was the catalyst that drove John A. Logan’s championship team. He will now be given the keys to Savage’s up-tempo attack for the Bucs. Peterson will have two years of eligibility remaining at ETSU.

Another addition to keep an eye on this season for ETSU is Tyler Rice out of William & Mary. The 6-foot-1-inch junior guard will be yet another good backcourt addition at the point guard position.

Another highly-touted newcomer is 6-foot-6-inch swingman Gabe Sisk, who will be a true freshman in 2023-24. Sisk comes to ETSU from comes out of Ballard High School in Louisville, Ky., where he was rated as a three-star recruit by 247Sports. Sisk was ranked as the No. 29 ranked combo guard in the country and was ranked the second highest rated guard in the state of Kentucky.

There are a total of 10 newcomers. Another notable addition is 6-foot-7-inch forward DJ Hughes (Butler), as well as 6-foot guard Timmy Faseshun (Gulf Coast State College). Hughes will give the Bucs some physical prowess underneath the basket and probably will equate well in the SoCon at the No.4 position.

Only a few players decided to return from last year’s team. They include point guard Allen Strothers (3.8 PPG, 1.8 RPG), shooting guard Justice Smith (7.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG), forward Braden Ilic (1.4 PPG, 1.7 RPG) and forward Jaden Seymour (8.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG).

Seymour is slated a preseason all-conference candidate heading into the season. Already an outstanding athlete and defender, he appears ready to make a significant jump in his offensive numbers and could be a challenger for first-team all-conference honors.

Peterson has the type of skill, maturity and quickness that can take the Bucs to a deep run in the tournament, and ETSU could very well be a team you don’t want to face the second week of March at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in Asheville.

Non-Conference Game to Watch: vs.. Davidson Nov. 10

The Bottom Feeders

Chattanooga (18-17, 7-11 SoCon/7th)

Head coach Dan Earl will have a tough time replacing all-everything center Jake Stephens but hopes to see Sam Alexis progress into one of the top big men in the Southern Conference. The Mocs will have one of an all-Military backcourt with the additions of dynamic VMI Keydet guard Honor Huff and former Citadel Bulldog guard Rudy Fitzgibbons Jr. They will be one of the smallest backcourts in the country yet again this season.

Mercer (14-19, 6-12 SoCon/8th)

Slow and methodical are two words that would accurately have described head coach Greg Gary’s Mercer Bears during the 2022-23 season. They slowed the games to counteract the fast-paced offenses we see throughout the league. However, the Bears severely lacked what it took offensively to ever really factor in as a league title contender last season. Gary has yet to get the kind of consistent point guard play in his four years at the helm of the Bears to get his system off the ground in Macon. He’s had at least one good big man in each of his previous four seasons and will have another in year five with the return of Jalyn McCreary (15.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG). He also procured an outstanding shooter from the transfer portal in Notre Dame grad senior Robby Carmody (0.2 PPG, 0.3 RPG). Carmody was a four-star recruit coming out of high school but struggled to stay healthy.

Wofford (17-16, 8-10 SoCon/T-5th)

Dwight Perry had the interim tag removed and will once again look to pick up the pieces for program that, for a third-straight season, must replace some significant offensive losses. All-conference big man BJ Mack is now at South Carolina, and SoCon Freshman of the Year guard Jackson Paveletzke is now at Iowa State. The leading returning scorer is veteran point guard Corey Tripp (8.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.9 APG), while 6-foot-2-inch sophomore guard Chase Cormier (transfer from Northeastern) and Dillion Bailey (from Northeastern State) are the top additions from the portal, helping bolster backcourt scoring. Without a reliable big man returning outside of Kyler Filewich, there are some rather big question marks facing the Terriers in 2023-24.

VMI (7-25, 2-16 SoCon/10th)

There’s no tougher job in Division I college basketball than the one in Lexington, Va. Making matters even tougher was the fact that first-year and rookie head coach Andrew Wilson didn’t have 10 healthy players on the roster at any one point in the 2022-23 season, making a 5-on-5 scrimmage impossible. Add to that he must now replace almost every player he worked so hard to recruit.

Wilson hit the ground running again. His best returning player is versatile small forward Taeshaud Jackson II (6.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG). He secured one of the league’s top young recruits in Maurice Wright Jr., who will have the opportunity to contribute right away. Rated as a four-star recruit by ESPN, the 6-foot-1-inch guard comes to VMI from St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., where he averaged 25.4 PPG, 8.4 RPG and 3.5 APG as a senior and garnered California All-State honors.

The Citadel (10-22, 5-13 SoCon/9th)

If Wilson’s job at VMI is the toughest job in the country, Ed Conroy’s job at The Citadel isn’t far behind, especially when you consider the Bulldogs lost most of its offensive production from a year ago. Center Stephen Clark transferred to South Carolina, and sharp-shooting guard Austin Ash used up his eligibility. As far as the players to keep an eye that return for the Bulldogs for the 2023-24 season, keep an eye on AJ Smith (6.1 PPG, 2.8 RPG) and Madison Durr (7.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG) in the backcourt. They have a chance to evolve even more this coming season in Conroy’s system.

Boldest Prediction

Though the league is down overall, however, one of the projected top six finishers will take down at least two power foes in the non-conference… The games are listed below. The italicized games are the upsets that I think will happen.

Nov. 6 Samford at Purdue

Nov. 10 Samford at VCU

Nov. 11 Western Carolina at Notre Dame

Nov. 14 UNCG at Vanderbilt

Nov. 17 UNCG at Arkansas

Nov. 10 Chattanooga at Louisville

Nov. 13 ETSU at Butler

Dec. 4 Furman at Arkansas

Dec. 19 Western Carolina at Vanderbilt

Dec. 29 UNCG at Texas

Dec. 30 Chattanooga at Auburn