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Introducing Cinderella: UNC-Greensboro claims SoCon title

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Conference: SoCon

Coach: Wes Miller

Record: 27-7, 15-3 SoCon

Ratings and Rankings:

– Kenpom: 91
– RPI: 65
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding: A win against NC State in the non-conference portion of the schedule helps the Spartans in the committee room and on the seed line. Still, it’s hard to see them going much higher than 14 given their profile.

Names you need to know: Francis Alonso shoots 41.8 percent from 3-point range and leads UNC-Greensboro with 15.9 points per game. Marvin Smith is the only other Spartan to average in double figures with 12.4 points while also contributing 5.4 rebounds per night. James Dickey is an elite shot blocker.

Stats you need to know: The Spartans are pedestrian 3-point shooters, converting at a 35.9 percent clip, but they hoist  them in big numbers, with 45.7 percent of their shots from the field coming from beyond the arc. They’re going to try to slow down play and put up a ton of 3s, which is a nice recipe for trying to pull an upset.

Big wins, bad losses: They topped NC State, 81-76, on the road in December and have two wins of a solid East Tennessee State squad. On the other side of the ledger, the Spartans did catch Ls from Presbyterian and Chattanooga.

How’d they get here?: They’ve won six-straight, including an convincing 62-47 win over ETSU in the SoCon title game Monday. They were the conference’s outright league regular season champ with a 15-3 record.

Outlook: It’s going to take the right matchup and a hot shooting night from distance for the Spartans to fit in Cinderella’s slipper, but their style of play is conducive to pulling something like that off. They’ll be a long shot and probably won’t be a bracket darling in the lead-up to the tourney.

How do I know you?: Wes Miller is in his seventh year at the helm of the Spartans despite just being 35 years old. Getting Greensboro to the NCAA tournament likely supplants his previous claim to fame – being a member of North Carolina’s 2005 national championship team. Miller appeared in 24 points and scored 26 points that season as a walk-on. He did not play in the Tar Heels’ famous title-game victory over Illinois in St. Louis. Bet he’s still got that ring, though.

Tevon Saddler will return to UNC-Greensboro

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UNC-Greensboro’s hopes for next season took a positive turn on Sunday morning when it was announced Tevon Saddler, the Southern Conference Freshman of the Year, would return to school.

The 6-foot-4 guard had looked to transfer earlier this spring.

“We are pleased to announce that Tevon is rejoining our program,” UNC-Greensboro head coach Wes Miller said in a statement. “He handled the transfer process with a great deal of maturity, and after looking at a variety of different universities he felt that his heart was still at UNCG. On his own accord, he reached out to all of his teammates individually to ask for their blessing to return to the team. I have been impressed with his humility and thoughtfulness throughout this process. He is eager to get back to work with his teammates and continue to help us achieve the lofty goals we have for this program.”

Saddler was second on the Spartans in scoring, and led the team in assists with 12.5 points and 2.9 assists per game.

The UNCG program had taken its share of hits this offseason with rotation players Jordan Potts and Tyrone Outlaw leaving the program and top scorer Kyle Cain turning pro.

The Spartans were 14-18 (7-9 SoCon) last season, finishing sixth place in the conference.

2013-2014 Southern Conference Preview: Can Elon unseat reigning champ Davidson?

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source:
AP

All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of the Conference Previews we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

When the realignment dominoes began tumbling the general consensus was that it would take a lot to impact the leagues that don’t sponsor FBS football. That assumption ended up being misguided, and the Southern Conference is an example of this. The College of Charleston is now in the CAA and four more schools, including Davidson, will leave at the end of the 2013-14 academic year.

But that won’t have an impact on the conference race this season, one that should be hotly contested. When discussing the SoCon, Bob McKillop’s Davidson squad has to be mentioned, but the Wildcats do have some key personnel losses to address. De’Mon Brooks, the team’s lone returning double-digit scorer, will be asked to lead the way and Miami-Ohio transfer Brian Sullivan should also have an impact after sitting out last season.

Even with the standard of excellence established by Davidson, the Wildcats aren’t seen as the favorites in the SoCon this season. Why? Because an Elon squad that won 21 games last season returns all five starters, including senior guard Jack Isenbarger. Add in forwards Ryley Beaumont (11.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Lucas Troutman (15.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and head coach Matt Matheny has a team more than ready to grab the league’s top spot.

Another program with the pieces needed to challenge for SoCon supremacy is Western Carolina, which returns its top five scorers from a season ago including the prolific Trey Sumler. But whether or not the Catamounts make a run at the title will depend upon their front court, with WCU finishing last season 11th in the SoCon in defensive rebounding percentage. Other teams with the potential to factor into the equation are Appalachian State, Samford and Wofford, with all three returning at least four starters from last season.

REALIGNMENT MOVES

In: None
Out: College of Charleston (CAA)

PRESEASON SOUTHERN CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: G Trey Sumler (Western Carolina)

Sumler averaged 18.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game as a redshirt junior, posting a solid offensive rating of 111.0. Sumler failed to reach double figures in points just three times last season, scoring a season-high 32 in a loss at Elon in late-January. Given his ability to put points on the board, look for the fifth-year season to take home SoCon Player of the Year honors.

FOUR MORE NAMES TO KNOW:

  • F De’Mon Brooks (Davidson): With Jake Cohen gone the Wildcats will need even more from Brooks (13.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg).
  • G Jack Isenbarger (Elon): The versatile Isenbarger (13.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.6 apg) leads the way for the preseason favorites.
  • F Kyle Cain (UNC Greensboro): The Arizona State transfer possesses the tools needed to have an immediate impact after sitting out last season.
  • G Raijon Kelly (Samford): Kelly (14.1 ppg, 4.7 apg) is one reason why the Bulldogs should be much-improved in 2013-14.

PREDICTED FINISH

1. Elon
2. Davidson
3. Western Carolina
4. Appalachian State
5. Wofford
6. Samford
7. Chattanooga
8. UNC Greensboro
9. Furman
10. Georgia Southern
11. The Citadel