UNC Greensboro (8-21) vs. Chattanooga (13-18)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 8, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: U.S. Cellular Center (13,080) -- Asheville, North Carolina. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: UNCG 6-9, UTC 9-9. Away Record: UNCG 2-12, UTC 5-8. Neutral Record: UNCG 0-0, UTC 0-0. Conference Record: UNCG 6-12, UTC 9-9. Series Record: UTC leads, 18-14.
GAMES NOTES: One of the most storied programs in Southern Conference history will try to make a run at the league title once again when the Chattanooga Mocs clash with the UNC Greensboro Spartans in first-round action on Friday.
UNCG has had much more humble results as a member of the Southern Conference as the Spartans will be going for just their second league title. The Spartans have a big hill to climb to do so after they finished the season at 8-21 overall and 6-12 in league play to earn just the 10th seed in this year's tourney. The Spartans lost three straight and six of their last seven games, although the lone win in that stretch was a 94-68 rout of Chattanooga.
Chattanooga has had a long run of success in the SoCon as it is behind only Davidson for tournament titles with, 10 while appearing in the finals 17 difference times, earning a 52-25 record in tournament play. The Mocs' most recent championship came in 2009 but like the Spartans their resume doesn't indicate that they will be adding to the trophy case this time around. Chattanooga was just 13-18 overall and with an even 9-9 split of its conference games, managed to secure just the seventh seed.
The win for the Spartans against the Mocs most recently was actually their second of the season as they swept the season series. The Spartans have now won four straight against the Mocs to pull closer in the all-time series which Chattanooga leads, 18-14.
In its regular season finale against Elon last Saturday, UNCG was dismissed unceremoniously in an 80-66 decision. The Spartans allowed the Phoenix to shoot at an alarming 56.5 percent from the field while connecting on just 39.7 percent themselves.
It has been that inability to get stops on the defensive end that has kept the Spartans down this season. They are surrendering 73.7 points per game to opponents despite keeping them below 45 percent shooting. The Spartans themselves can score the ball (71.5 ppg) well enough but they have done so without much efficiency as they shoot at just a 41.9 percent clip from the floor. The shooting woes stem from a reliance on shooting from distance as the Spartans have attempted the second most 3-point shots in the SoCon (619). Trevis Simpson (18.8 ppg) is the top scorer not only for the Spartans but the conference as a whole, while Derrell Armstrong (14.6 ppg) is also capable in that area.
The Mocs were also on the short end of a route in their regular-season finale as they were dismissed 86-60 by Appalachian State. The difference in the game came at the 3-point line where the Mocs were outscored by a stunning 36-9 margin.
There is one area where Chattanooga has really thrived this season and that is on the boards. The Mocs are the best rebounding team in the SoCon (38 pg), while rankings among the 40 best teams in the country in that category. Unfortunately the Mocs provide a ton of rebounding opportunities themselves, shooting the third-worst percentage from the floor among SoCon teams (.416). Z. Mason (14.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg) is the top rebounder on the squad and its most productive offensive commodity as well. The 6-foot-5 forward is a bit undersized for the frontcourt but has a nose for the ball and ranks fourth in the conference on the glass as well. Gee McGhee (12.3 ppg) provides a nice complement for Mason in the backcourt as the only other double-figure scorer.
This season UNC Greensboro seems to have the Mocs' number. If Simpson and the rest of the Spartans are able to convert from long distance more effectively than they did on Saturday they may just pull off an upset.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UNC Greensboro 78, Chattanooga 73
03/08 10:35:36 ET