Eight teams, five days, one champion. The Southern Conference baseball tournament starts Wednesday morning in Greenville, S.C., and this year is as wide open as ever.
Sure, that small school from North Carolina – Elon - is the favorite to take the title, but it won’t just be handed to them. The top six teams all have a fair shot at earning the NCAA’s automatic bid to a regional site while others are still holding slim hopes of earning an at-large nod from the selection committee.
The field is divided into two brackets. We’ll start with Bracket One where your home town boys in blue kick things off Wednesday morning with a 9 a.m. tilt against Davidson. No. 3 The Citadel faces No. 6 Appalachian State at 1 p.m. In Bracket Two, Elon draws No. 8 Furman and No. 4 Western Carolina gets No. 5 College of Charleston.
The tournament works by the champions of each bracket advancing to face each other in a winner-takes-all title game Sunday at 2 p.m. on SportSouth.
So the question remains, “Can Georgia Southern do it?” The answer is yes, but the “will they” is a more complicated query.
The Eagles (38-15) come into play needing two wins to get to win No. 40, something the selection committee allegedly takes into great consideration when choosing at-large bids. The problem is, if GSU goes 0-2 – or even 1-2 - this week, they’ll likely be left out of the tournament after being one of the top teams in the nation all year long.
What have you done for me lately?
Southern should have no problems with Davidson on Wednesday, but after that it gets tricky. The Eagles lost 2 of 3 to The Citadel this year and the Bulldogs have won 9 of 11 – including a sweep of arch-rival Charleston this past weekend.
No. 6 ASU dropped 2 of 3 to Georgia Southern in March, but has gone 25-5 after winning the final game of that series and is a dangerous squad.
In Bracket Two, Elon should breeze through. Furman is no threat, Charleston is fading fast and WCU has all the offense but none of the pitching.
So when you wake up Sunday morning without much of anything to do for Memorial Day Weekend – drive to the City of Green. It’ll be Georgia Southern vs. Elon for the title and I’m doing my duty as local homer: Eagles upset Phoenix for SoCon title.
Let’s conclude today’s lesson with a little professional sports playoff prediction fun. C’mon!
The NBA Playoffs are on track to finish at the MLB All-Star break, so you’ll see the results of these predictions in the July edition of the Weekly Whatup.
Wouldn’t it be funny to have Denver vs. Orlando in the NBA Finals? It’d be the series the league would cringe to see. But alas, the Cavs and LeBron will take care of Orlando in six, and Kobe & Co. will escape once again in seven. I don’t make the rules.
In that other league, which, yes, does still exist, despite the inability to watch it locally, four teams remain as well.
For you non-hockey buffs, Detroit is playing Chicago and Pittsburgh is fighting off Carolina. Since Thrashers loyalties demand I pick against their division rival – I may be in trouble already for mentioning their name – Sid the Kid and the Pens move on.
In the Western Conference, Detroit has been the best team all year and will dispose of the upstart Blackhawks in five.
After an 0-1 week for me, treading at 4-5 for the year.