Men's basketball prepare for SoCon tournament

Justin Baxley

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In the last weeks of their season, the Mercer Men’s Basketball Team is thoroughly preparing for the Southern Conference Championship. This past week, the team faced the top two teams in the conference, Chattanooga and Wofford.

Ike Nwamu had a massive jam and a clutch three late that propelled the Bears passed Chattanooga in a thrilling overtime game at home.

Mercer and 150 crazed fans traveled to Wofford as the Bears lost in a heartbreaker. The Bears miss three game-tying threes in the final 16 seconds of the game.

By splitting the two games, Mercer remains third in the conference, and it looks as though

Wofford is still the team to beat in the SoCon, as they look to repeat as conference tournament champions.

The stretch run will consist of games against each of the top two teams, which will be vital for seeding in the SoCon tournament. If the Bears can win those games, then they will be near the top of the conference standings and in a prime position to earn the number one seed in Asheville.

The Bears will then take on two teams that they have already beaten once this year, The Citadel and Furman, who are both toward the bottom of the standings. These two games should be wins for the Bears, as they will be heavily favored in both.

The Bears will take on Western Carolina after that, and it gives them the first opportunity to beat a Southern Conference team that they lost to early in the year. The Bears lost to the Catamounts 60-52 after leading going into the half, but the Bears could not hold on. This game will be the start of a three-game home stand for Mercer.

UNCG will play back-to-back games here at Mercer. UNCG is in the bottom two of the SoCon and has not won back-to-back conference games yet, including a loss to Mercer earlier this year.

The Bears close out their road schedule against the best and the worst records in the conference. They first travel to Chattanooga, in what could be a game that decides where both teams end up in the final standings. Samford is the last road game for the Bears and is the easiest game left on the schedule. Mercer will need to avoid an upset in this game.

The final two games of the regular season will take place at Hawkins Arena. The Wofford Terriers will come into town and should be the stiffest test that Mercer faces the rest of the way. Mercer will look to take down the defending SoCon champs. They close out against ETSU, which is the team that dealt Mercer their first Southern Conference loss of the season.

The Bears certainly will be tested on the road to the conference tournament. Mercer will be looking to make a deep run in the tournament and hopefully win the whole thing, with the opportunity to return to the Big Dance. It would be a first in the program’s history if they are able to win the conference tournament championship and go to the NCAA tournament in back-to-back seasons.

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