Atlantic Sun tournament: Five teams look like contenders

Conference tournament play began Tuesday, kicking off a 12-day mad scramble for NCAA tournament berths. Up next in our conference tournament previews is the Atlantic Sun Conference, a jumble of a league in which the top five teams were separated by just a game in the standings and the sixth-place team hosts the tournament.

Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament

Date: March 3-6

Site: Macon, GA (Host: Mercer)

No. 1 Lipscomb vs. No. 8 Kennesaw State
No. 4 Campbell vs. No. 5 East Tennessee State
No. 3 Belmont vs. No. 6 Mercer
No. 2 Jacksonville vs. No. 7 North Florida

Favorite: Lipscomb (17-12, 14-6) is the top seed, but four teams tied for first place

Contenders: Belmont (19-11, 14-6), Jacksonville (18-11, 14-6), Campbell (14-6, 19-10), East Tennessee State (17-14, 13-7)

Did you know: Kennesaw State will participate in the conference tournament for the first time after being ineligible the last three years during the reclassification process from Division II.

Outlook: Although there's not a more wide-open tournament than the Atlantic Sun this season, the draw certainly favors top-seeded Lipscomb and second-seeded Jacksonville. They'll be heavy favorites in their first round games, whereas third-seeded Belmont gets Mercer on its own floor and Campbell and East Tennessee State must play each other. If Jacksonville wins the tournament, it will certainly make for a nice story considering the Dolphins are four seasons removed from winning just one game.

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