Ben Vanderwal, Furman Paladins, SoCon Tournament

CBB Review hands out awards for each conference tournament in 2023. Up next: The SoCon Tournament.

The SoCon Tournament ended up providing a good mix of chaos and calm at the same time. The bottom half of the bracket fell apart when Chattanooga and Wofford upset second-seeded Samford and third-seeded UNC Greensboro respectively. That UNCG loss destroyed our SoCon Preview, but both upsets laid the foundation for Furman to finally seal the deal.

The Paladins knocked off Mercer, Western Carolina in overtime, and finally Chattanooga to clinch their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 43 years. Furman not only went wire to wire as the preseason pick to the actual regular-season and tournament championship but did in vengeful fashion, knocking off a Chattanooga program that beat them on a 35-foot buzzer-beater in the same game exactly one year ago.

CBB Review SoCon Tournament Most Outstanding Player

JP Pegues, Furman

That’s right, Jalen Slawson and Mike Bothwell aren’t the picks here. Both of those guys played well, but the player that really stepped up big-time was Pegues. He averaged over 20 points over the three games the Paladins played and hit some big-time shots when the team needed it. Pegues has always been solid for Furman, but he really stepped up into a bigger role throughout this season. If he can continue his hot hand into the Paladins’ first March Madness game, he creates yet another threat for a team that already has two dynamic players.

CBB Review All-SoCon Tournament First Team

  • G: Mike Bothwell, Furman – 3 games played (15.0 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.3 SPG)
  • G: JP Pegues, Furman – 3 games played (21.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.3 APG)
  • G: Vonterius Woolbright, Western Carolina – 2 games played (20.0 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 5.0 APG)
  • F: BJ Mack, Wofford – 2 games played (16.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 0.5 APG, 1.0 BPG)
  • C: Jake Stephens, Chattanooga – 4 games played (23.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.5 BPG)

Furman’s NCAA Tournament Prediction

Round of 32

Furman is a veteran-laden team that won’t be scared of the bright lights. They did lose to NC State by 19, but also only lost to Penn State on a neutral floor by 5. The Paladins’ one-two punch of Slawson and Bothwell will definitely make their first-round opponent do their homework for a good game plan. This is a team that will push a 4 or a 3 seed in the first round and can win a game if the cards fall just right.