Record: (26-8, 14-4 Atlantic Sun)
RPI: 88 (.546)
BPI: 105 (62.3)
Conference: Atlantic Sun
How They Qualified: Automatic Bid (won Atlantic Sun Tournament)
November (and the regular season) started with a near-upset of the Texas Longhorns in Austin and a thrilling double overtime win over Seton Hall. They finished the opening month 5-3, but two of their win were over non-DI opponents. December started with a loss at Oklahoma but it got better thanks to an early Christmas present, a signature win at Ole Miss.
The new year started with a loss in conference but the Bears then rattled off eight straight wins in A-Sun play to catapult to 9-1 and first-place. They stumbled down the stretch, dropping two of their final four games, but bounced back nicely in the A-Sun tournament.
In the title game, the second-seeded Bears took down 2013 Atlantic Sun champ and Sweet 16 participant Florida Gulf Coast, 68-60, avenging last season’s loss in the same game. Florida Gulf Coast put “Dunk City” on the map in 2013 and in the process, made the A-Sun a bit of a household conference name for NCAA Tournament fans.
What You Need to Know
Leading Scorer: Langston Hall – 14.7 ppg
Leading Rebounder: Daniel Coursey – 6.6 rpg
Leading Passer: Langston Hall – 5.6 apg
Bad Losses: Evansville, North Florida (twice)
Good Wins: Ole Miss, Florida Gulf Coast (twice)
What to Expect
The Bears can score the ball as well as anyone, averaging 79.6 points per game, good for 24th in the country. Mercer features a balanced scoring attack led by Hall, and has six players averaging at least eight points a game. They’re fourth in the country in field goals made and attempted and shoot 47.9 percent from the floor, so whether you force them inside or out (38.5 3PT%), they’ll find a way to score.
A veteran team, Mercer features seven seniors and is no stranger to postseason play. The Bears were eliminated by BYU in the second round of the 2013 NIT and won the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament in 2012.
To think they can’t at least win a game or two in the NCAA Tourney would be foolish. The Bears are hungry and after seeing their conference-mates make a racket last year, there’s no reason they can’t, especially with seven seniors leading the way.
Congratulations to the Mercer Bears. They are going dancing in the NCAA Tournament!