An NCAA Tournament bid is at stake Sunday afternoon in Fort Myers and revenge is on the minds of the Mercer Bears. After leading the Atlantic Sun for just about the entire conference schedule, the Bears lost an overtime game to North Florida; and therefore, relinquished home court advantage in the A-Sun Tournament to last year’s champion Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles are 1.5-point favorites in front of the home crowd.
Everyone remembers what Florida Gulf Coast was able to accomplish in last year’s NCAA Tournament – becoming the first 15-seed to reach the Sweet 16. But people often forget that Mercer was the Atlantic Sun champion in the regular season and it took a road win in the championship game at Mercer for the FGCU to even get into the Dance. One year later and the Bears find themselves in the reversed role – on the road against Florida Gulf Coast, looking for revenge and an NCAA Tournament bid.
For only having one player average double-figure scoring, the Bears have one of the best offensive attacks in the country. Mercer puts up 79.6 points per game, which is good enough for 24th in the nation. Sharp-shooting Langston Hall leads the team in scoring with nearly 14 points per game and then a lot of balance backs him up. The Bears’ next five top scorers average between 7.7 and 9.8 points per game and 12 players play at least an average of 9.5 minutes per game for the road team. Mercer shoots the three as well as just about any team in the country at 38.9 percent and the deep ball will prove to be the great equalizer on the road. The Bears must hit the deep ball like they know they can to keep the Florida Gulf Coast crowd out of the game as much as possible.
Both teams played very tight semifinal games and it will be an interesting atmosphere early on a Sunday afternoon in Florida. Mercer has been the better team in the Atlantic Sun just about all year and you know the Bears will remember what happened on their home floor last year. Look for Mercer to get the win in the revenge spot and punch its ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
Free Pick: Mercer +1.5