February 24, 2012

Countdown to Conference, Day #5 – Potential Matchups

SAINT LEO, Fla. – With the final pairings less than 24 hours away from being solidified, SaintLeoLions.com takes a look at three of the most probable match-ups for Saint Leo next Wednesday.

Florida Tech currently owns the top spot and is guaranteed at least a share of the Sunshine State Conference trophy.   Meanwhile, seeds two through four are still unclear, but due to the tiebreaker scenarios, it is most likely the Lions will host its first-ever conference contest as the No.3 or No.4-seed.

Saint Leo currently owns the longest winning-streak in the conference having won six consecutive games, which is also the program's longest win streak since the 1976-77 season. In order to keep their chances at the higher seed, the Lions look to solidify a win against the Barry Buccaneers this Saturday in Miami Shores.

Despite positioning, here is look at the three most likely scenarios and how the Lions match-up with each.

Florida Southern: The Mocs are 0-2 against the Lions in 2011-12, the first time Saint Leo has swept the season series from FSC in program history. The high-scoring Mocs have blistered the nets with a league–best 81.2 points-per-game. However, Florida Southern has also surrendered a league worst 75.2 points-per-game. They are fifth in the conference in three-point field goals with 167, and are one of the best teams at hitting the glass, registering 981 rebounds. The group is also the leader in the assists category, averaging 17.5 assists-per-game. Individually, Seth Evans leads the league in scoring at 17.4 points-per-game, while also leading the league in three-point field goal percentage. In fact, the Mocs hold three of the SSC's top scorers. Brett Bailey is third in the conference in rebounding averaging 7.1 rebounds-per-game. The Mocs are 9-7 in the conference and will finish the season with a non-conference showdown with Palm Beach Atlantic.

Nova Southeastern: Nova Southeastern and Saint Leo split their season series, as each team took their respective home games.  Middle of the pack in offense, the Sharks have done the majority of their damage from the free throw line, as well as compiling an impressive field goal percentage. Nova is hitting nearly 72 percent of their free throws while shooting a league-best 48 percent from the floor. The squad is also third in blocks and second in assists. Defensively, the Sharks have allowed opponents to score at nearly a 68-point clip. Individually, Nova Southeastern relies on a total team effort. The team's leading scorer, Robert Huntington, ranks 19th in the SSC in scoring at 11.3 points-per-game. Iran Hollis is the team leader in rebounds at 6.3 boards-per-game. The Sharks are 6-9 in the SSC and will host Rollins in their conference finale at 4 p.m.

Lynn University: The Fighting Knights were the only team to sweep the Lions on the season. Much like Saint Leo, Lynn relies on a strong defensive effort as they are second in the conference in defensive scoring at 63.8 points-per-game. Lynn has made up for its free-throw struggles with precision three-point shooting as they have connected on a league-best 202 three-point field goals. The Fighting Knights are a top-three rebounding team and rank in the middle of the pack in steals and assists. Lynn has also committed the second-most turnovers in the league. Individually, Josh Garcia ranks as the 16th leading scorer in the SSC and is part of a trio of double-digit scorers. Michael Vidal is averaging 9.5 rebounds-per-game and 1.7 blocks-per-game, a stat which ranks him first in rebounding and third in blocks. Lynn enters the final game of the season posting a sub .500 record (13-14), and a 6-9 conference mark.

The complete bracket will be released on Saturday evening concluding the final games of the regular Sunshine State Conference season.  For the latest news, updates, and information on the Saint Leo men's basketball team, visit saintleolions.com.