- The Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament kicks off Tuesday March 1
- The Liberty Flames have won the last three tournaments, locking up the lone NCAA Tournament bid up for grabs
- See Atlantic Sun Tournament odds, seeds, bracket, and full tournament preview below
The Liberty Flames will look to make it four straight Atlantic Sun Tournament titles, which also comes with the lone automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament, when the tourney kicks off Tuesday, March 1.
While they are the tournament betting favorite, the Jacksonville St Gamecocks have secured the top seed in the field with a 13-3 conference mark, edging out the Flames, who finished 12-4.
The Gamecocks will be the 1-seed in the West bracket, Liberty the top-seed in the East bracket.
2022 Atlantic Sun Tournament Odds
|Florida Gulf Coast||+1600|
Odds from FanDuel Sportsbook on Feb 27th.
Liberty enters as a +115 favorite followed closely by Jacksonville State at +165.
A-Sun Tournament Breakdown
There are a few different quirks to this conference tourney to note. There is no central location for all games, so the four first-round games will be hosted by the tournaments highest seeds (1-2 in the East and West Division).
No team has won 4️⃣ consecutive Atlantic Sun tournament titles 👀
— Yahoo Sportsbook (@YahooSportsbook) February 27, 2022
Those schools are Bellarmine, Jacksonville, Jacksonville State and Liberty, who have all earned first-round byes. The winners on Day 1 get the top seeds on March 3 in quarterfinal play. Once those results are in, the teams are again re-seeded for the semifinal which goes March 5. All of those games will be broadcast on ESPN+.
The final will tip off on March 8 at 5pm ET, and that can be seen live on ESPN.
Liberty, Jacksonville St Expected to Battle for NCAA Berth
Jacksonville suffered disheartening back-to-back losses late in the season to the Stetson Hatters, who finished last in the East, and the Central Arkansas Bears, who had just 10 wins. However, they did rally to win four straight to end the year and claim the regular season crown.
. 𝑾𝑯𝑨𝑻 𝑨 𝑹𝑰𝑫𝑬! pic.twitter.com/xZbaUvlvjS
— JSU Men's Basketball (@JSUGamecocksMBB) February 26, 2022
The Gamecocks were led in scoring by guard Darian Adams, who averaged 15.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. Two other guards, Jalen Gibbs (11.1) and Damaree King (11.0), were the only other players to average double-digit scoring for Jacksonville State on the year.
Liberty, meanwhile, finished the year just 3-3 in their final six games, taking L’s from both the Jacksonville Dolphins and Florida Gulf Coast Eagles — who finished 2-3 behind the Flames in the East. They also got beat by North Florida.
Another ridiculous performance by Liberty guard Darius McGhee.
For the third time this season, McGhee has gone over the 40-point mark, scoring 47 in total and 16 in overtime against Kennesaw.pic.twitter.com/oVuRm6OQNv
— Heat Check CBB (@HeatCheckCBB) February 26, 2022
They did close out strong, however, besting Kennesaw State 100-93 in overtime, their highest scoring output of the season. Darius McGhee was unstoppable, pouring in a game-high 47 points and adding nine rebounds.
Liberty’s fortunes will go as far as McGhee will take them. Last year’s A-Sun tourney MVP, he led the team in scoring at 24.7 points per game, adding 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists. Keegan McDowell is the only other Flames player to average double digits in scoring at 10 a game.
Jacksonville Emerges as Dark Horse
If there’s one team that can challenge and is playing their best basketball on the season, it’s the Dolphins. A loss to the Eagles in the regular season finale snapped their five-game win streak, but they finished the year hot, winning eight of their final 10.
They have a close 73-69 win over Liberty under their belt, and played Jacksonville St tough in a 64-58 loss.
Kevion Nolan for the win! pic.twitter.com/ETv29rhTbb
— Heat Check CBB (@HeatCheckCBB) January 9, 2022
Kevion Nolan led the team in scoring at 14 points per game — the only double digit scorer, but they distributed the points evenly down the board, with five other players averaging between eight and 10 points.
Atlantic Sun Tournament Best Bet
This will likely be the tourney winner’s shining moment on the year, as no team even has current odds to make the Final Four.
Jacksonville St also has the lone win vs Liberty in their head-to-head, winning by 10 on the Flames’ floor. If rankings matter to you, Liberty ranks 115 in KenPom, better in both offensive and defensive efficiency over both the Gamecocks (136 KenPom ranking) and the Dolphins (164).
Experience should play a factor in this one, and until someone breaks the Flames’ current run in the A-Sun, they’ll remain the favorite an the best bet. Don’t be afraid to sprinkle a little on Jacksonville too, as a nice little backup.
The pick: Liberty (+115)