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Atlantic Sun Semifinals Preview

March 5, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Atlantic Sun Semifinals Preview

Preview by Michael Protos

No. 1 Troy State vs. No. 4 Georgia State
The Trojans are the hottest team in the Atlantic Sun conference as they have won 12 consecutive games. Prior to the win streak, Troy State had lost two of three games, including a road game against Georgia State. That loss was one of only two conference losses, so Georgia State is one of the few teams that knows how to beat the Trojans. Troy State likes to run up and down the court despite only playing an eight-man rotation. The Panthers beat Troy State by shooting better than 52 percent. For the Trojans, the key to this game is simple: establish the tempo early and force Georgia State to play from behind. Making a high percentage of shots is substantially more difficult when the deficit seems to grow with every possession.

The Panthers must play an efficient basketball game and not get sucked into a track meet with the athletic Trojans. Troy State does not commit many turnovers, just over 11 per game, which puts all the more pressure on the Panthers’ shooters. Fortunately the Panthers are a good shooting team, averaging about 47 percent on the year and 36 percent from three-point range. Three Panthers shoot better than 38 percent. Georgia State wants to keep this game close and establish a sound shooting rhythm to have a chance to steal an upset late in the game.

Prediction: Troy State 82, Georgia State 70

No. 2 Central Florida vs. No. 3 Belmont
These two teams split their regular season meetings, each team winning at home. Belmont won by 15 in Nashville, Tenn., when the teams last met. That could be a problem for Central Florida because Belmont hosts the conference tournament. In that loss, Central Florida allowed Belmont to shoot better than 58 percent. The Golden Knights win by limiting the number of clean shots that opponents find. In the win against Belmont, Central Florida held the Bruins under 38 percent shooting. That’s a 20 percent differential and that directly accounts for the results. If Central Florida holds Belmont under 45 percent shooting, the Golden Knights have a good chance of winning.

Belmont plays well at home, but in two of the team’s three home losses, the Bruins shot under 36 percent. The Bruins also play strong defense as only three teams have scored more than 70 points at Belmont. All three of those games were losses. Belmont may be the lower seed, but the home-court advantage renders these teams even. Belmont will likely win if they shoot well and if the home-court advantage translates into greater energy on defense.

Prediction: Belmont 75, Central Florida 69

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