Fresh off his CCR Mid-Major Player of the Week honour, QJ Peterson led the VMI Keydets into their regular season finale on Monday night, looking to play the role of spoiler.
With their standing in the Southern Conference tournament set in stone, the Keydets turned their attention to the top team on the SoCon totem pole: the Chattanooga Mocs. While the Mocs had already locked up the 1-seed in the conference tournament, they were still playing for the outright regular season crown.
Simply put, the 2015-16 season hasn’t gone as planned for the VMI Keydets. They head into their Southern Conference finale with a 9-19 record overall, and 4-13 against conference opponents. Playing conference opponents hasn’t been too friendly to the Keydets this season, as they have two losing streaks of five or more games in conference action.
In the Southern Conference tournament, the Keydets will face off against the Samford Bulldogs, with the winner to take on the top seed in the quarter-finals.
Despite their struggles this season, the Keydets put together an impressive seven day stretch that saw them come away with a perfect 2-0 record. They are gaining momentum at just the right time, and will look to surprise a team or two come tournament time.
A big reason for their mini two-game winning streak was the play of junior guard QJ Peterson. He put together a record-setting performance on Thursday night in the Keydets’ first game of the week, then followed it up with another strong showing to close out the week.
Just when it looked as though the Chattanooga Mocs were going to run away with the Southern Conference regular season title, they hit a couple of speed bumps over the past couple of weeks.
Coming into Saturday afternoon, the Mocs were just 2-2 in their last four games, and were coming off an upset loss at the hands of the UNC-Greensboro Spartans in their last outing. The recent stretch has allowed the East Tennessee State Buccaneers to creep up on the Mocs, but Chattanooga still has a game in hand on the Bucs.
On the day that the Mocs honoured their seniors, they welcomed the Samford Bulldogs to town. After a strong start to the season, the Bulldogs are now playing for pride and for seeding in the Southern Conference tournament.
Before making the move to the Southern Conference, the Mercer Bears wreaked havoc on their opponents in the Atlantic Sun. Over the past few years, they have been one of the top mid-major programs, and are always a threat to take home their conference title.
On Wednesday afternoon, they took on an opponent that they are very familiar with from their days in the Atlantic Sun. They paid a visit to Kennesaw, Georgia to face off against the Kennesaw State Owls. The season hasn’t gone as planned for the Owls to date, but a win over the Bears would do them wonders as they look to close out 2015 on a high note.
Over the past couple of seasons, both the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers and the Wofford Terriers have represented their conference in the NCAA Tournament, and have wreaked havoc during the regular season over the NCAA as a whole. They have been two of the more dominant mid-major teams in the last 2 or 3 years, which has made the start to the 2015-16 season a struggle to watch at time for both teams.
Both the Chanticleers and Terriers are adapting to life without some of their stars from last season. Most notably, Warren Gillis is not in a Chanticleers’ jersey this season, and Karl Cochran is no longer suiting up for the Terriers.
Despite the losses, both teams have talent and Monday night’s battle was a showdown of two heavyweight mid-major programs.
Monday night marked a long-awaited moment for Mississippi State basketball fans: the regular season of Malik Newman, the prize recruit from a strong recruiting class for the Bulldogs. After not appearing in their opener against Eastern Washington, Newman would come off the bench against Southern.
It also marked the first-ever meeting between Southern and Mississippi State. The Bulldogs were riding high after a win over Eastern Washington, while the Jaguars lost a hard-fought game to Arkansas in their opener.
When a SWAC teams takes on an SEC opponent, the latter would tend to win more often than not, at least on paper. On Monday, the “not” came into full effect, and the SWAC reigned supreme.