CBB Review highlights the ins and outs of every conference tournament leading up to Selection Sunday. Up next: The Atlantic Sun Tournament.
The Atlantic Sun Tournament has been dominated by Liberty the past few seasons. The Flames have not only been a threat in the league, but a threat to power conference teams in March. This season, however, a newcomer to the league in Jacksonville State has Liberty feeling the heat in the fight for the A-Sun’s lone bid.
Players to Watch
- Darius McGhee, Liberty
- Tavian Dunn-Martin, Florida Gulf Coast
- Dylan Penn, Bellarmine
- Darian Adams, Jacksonville State
- Kevion Nolan, Jacksonville
As is usual when highlighting players to keep an eye on, many of these guys play for teams that found more success this season. If there’s only one guy you absolutely have to choose from, though, it’s Darius McGhee. McGhee just dropped his third 40+ point game of the season, and has scored at least 20 in Liberty’s last eight games. Good luck stopping him in this tournament.
Dunn-Martin has been a fantastic scoring addition for FGCU, including going toe-to-toe with McGhee in a win over Liberty last week. Penn paces Bellarmine as they continue to compete in year two of A-Sun membership. Darian Adams is Jacksonville State’s leading scorer and can get it done from just about anywhere on the court. Kevion Nolan has been the spark behind a drastic turnaround of the Jacksonville program in the first year of the Jordan Mincy era.
Team to Watch: Florida Gulf Coast
The Eagles are most famously known for their Dunk City run to the Sweet 16 almost ten years ago. However, this is a program that knows how to compete in the Atlantic Sun, and it all starts with the aforementioned Dunn-Martin. The Eagles already have that win over Liberty and have a favorable path to the tournament semis. FGCU could get hot, especially if Dunn-Martin is feeling it.
Atlantic Sun Tournament Simulation
First Round – Tuesday, March 1
3W Central Arkansas vs. 6E Stetson – 7 p.m. ET
Central Arkansas took the only meeting this season, and Stetson has lost five in a row. Give me UCA.
4E Kennesaw State vs. 5W Eastern Kentucky – 7 p.m. ET
These two played a three overtime thriller in their only meeting this season, a one-point EKU win. Kennesaw State has been one of the best surprises this season, and I think they advance behind under-the-radar star Chris Youngblood.
3E Florida Gulf Coast vs. 6W North Alabama – 7 p.m. ET
North Alabama lost by 32 the only time these two matched up. The margin might be smaller, but give me FGCU once again.
4W Lipscomb vs. 5E North Florida – 8 p.m. ET
North Florida comes in having won four of their last five games, but Lipscomb still has one of the best big men in Ahsan Asadullah. He helps get the job done for the Bisons.
Quarterfinals – Thursday, March 3
2E Jacksonville vs. 3W Central Arkansas – 7 p.m. ET
Jacksonville will slow the pace down and should repeat the 20-point victory they had over UCA earlier this season.
1W Jacksonville State vs. 4E Kennesaw State – 7 p.m. ET
Kennesaw State gave JSU a game back in late January, but the Gamecocks seem poised to make a run for an A-Sun title. Jacksonville State advances.
2W Bellarmine vs. 3E Florida Gulf Coast – 7 p.m. ET
Bellarmine took the only meeting between these teams, but I’m all in on FGCU making a run when it counts.
1E Liberty vs. 4W Lipscomb – 7 p.m. ET
Liberty won’t fall early. Give me the Flames and give me McGhee for at least 30 points.
Semifinals – Saturday, March 5
1W Jacksonville State vs. 3E Florida Gulf Coast – TBD
Jacksonville State escaped with an eight point win when these two played on January 22. The key in that one was the Gamecocks’ depth, and that should help them advance in this one, with this being FGCU’s third game in five days. JSU escapes here.
1E Liberty vs. 2E Jacksonville – TBD
This would be the rubber match between these two squads. Liberty won by nearly 40 the first time around, while Jacksonville took the second game by four. The difference was the Dolphins’ effort on defense. Jacksonville has been a nice story this season, but Liberty seems destined to compete for another A-Sun title.
Championship – Tuesday, March 8
1W Jacksonville State vs. 1E Liberty – 5 p.m. ET
The league gets the match-up it deserves, and one of the reasons Liberty didn’t win the regular-season title is due to a 10-point loss to JSU in late January. The Flames don’t let lightning strike twice, with Darius McGhee carrying Liberty to its third straight Atlantic Sun Tournament title and taking the tournament Most Outstanding Player honors for the second straight year.