JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 15, 2010) - With a pair of signature wins already this season, the ETSU men's basketball team - along with other members of the Atlantic Sun Conference - is doing its part to put the league in some impressive company on the national hoops stage.
With wins over Atlantic 10 Conference stalwart Dayton and Southeastern Conference West Division favorite Mississippi State, the Buccaneers have helped the A-Sun generate plenty of waves across the board in the national RPI rankings. As a result, one month into the 2010-11 NCAA men's basketball season, the Atlantic Sun Conference is ranked ahead of other mid-major leagues including the Southern, Ohio Valley, Big South, West Coast, Mid-American, WAC and Sun Belt.
The A-Sun remains among the top half of the conferences in the country. CollegeRPI.com ranks the A-Sun 14th, immediately behind the Horizon, Conference USA and Missouri Valley, and ahead of the conferences mentioned above. Against the Southern, Big South, Sun Belt and Ohio Valley conferences, the A-Sun owns a 15-8 mark.
The conference has more than held its own against the BCS conferences. With ETSU's win at Mississippi State, the conference grabbed its fifth win against the "Power-6" leagues. No conference eligible for consideration for the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll owns as many BCS wins as the A-Sun. The five wins represent the most for the league since they also picked up five wins in 2007-08.
Here's a breakdown of how the league has fared:
ETSU - The Buccaneers have picked up two signature wins on their month-long sojourn away from Johnson City to move back inside the RPI top 100. The eight-game stretch began by ending Dayton's 40-game home win streak against non-conference foes and on Saturday, ETSU edged passed Mississippi State, for the league's third SEC win.
BELMONT - The Bruins have started 6-2 for the second straight season and own the conference's best position in the Sagarin rankings (No. 43). Among conferences eligible for the Mid-Major Top 25, they own the fifth-highest Sagarin ratings position. Bolstered by incredible bench production (third in the nation at 43.2 points per game), Belmont ranks sixth in the country in points per game.
CAMPBELL - The Camels topped Auburn, 61-54, for their first win against an SEC school in more than 16 years. They have continued their strong play in the Pope Center/Gore Arena, starting 3-0 to improve to 25-7 all-time at the three-year old arena.
FGCU - In the Eagles' home opener, they toppled Southeast Missouri State for the program's second-ever win against a school from the OVC. Led by Anthony Banks (who ranks ninth in the country in offensive rebounds per game) the Eagles rank among the 20 best offensive rebounding teams in the country.
JACKSONVILLE - The Dolphins started 6-1, for its best seven-game start in 10 years. The Dolphins won at Auburn on Nov. 27, the first win for the Dolphins against an SEC school as an A-Sun member. Ayron Hardy ranks inside the top 10 in the country in both field goal percentage and steals per game.
KENNESAW STATE - The Owls hosted Georgia Tech - the first ACC school to play at the KSU Convocation Center - and emerged victorious, 80-63 representing the league's first win against the Yellow Jackets in more than 17 years.
LIPSCOMB - The Bisons own a 4-0 record against the Ohio Valley in building a current RPI of 46 and placing ninth in the Bleacher Report's Mid-Major Top 25. Their only two losses to date have come on the road at then-nationally ranked UNC and Baylor. They have already topped the 90-point mark four times and along with Boulevard rival Belmont, rank among the top 10 scoring teams in the nation.
MERCER - The Bears have enjoyed playing in front of boisterous crowds in the early goings. Three Mercer home games have averaged 2,351 fans, good to rank third in the conference and continue a vast ascent under head coach Bob Hoffman. In the year before Hoffman arrived in Macon, the Bears averaged 1,095 fans per game and have increased to 1,707 in 2008-09 and 2,141 last year.
UNF - The Ospreys won their second holiday tournament in as many years, winning the Mayan Division of the Cancun Challenge. In the opening round of the tournament, the Ospreys defeated their first-ever Mountain West opponent, Wyoming and became the only mid-major program to earn a victory in the opening round games of the Challenge.
USC UPSTATE - The Spartans have thrilled the home fans at the renovated Hodge Center. In home games against UNC Asheville and ETSU, the Spartans have played to 96.4 percent capacity and pulled out a 93-91 overtime win against UNC Asheville and a 60-59 win against the reigning A-Sun champs.
STETSON - The Hatters kicked off the A-Sun resurgence on opening night. Stetson ended the conference's 13-year drought against the ACC by beating Wake Forest 89-79. The unrelated Grahams (Ridge and Aaron) have led or tied for the team lead in scoring in every game this season.
The Atlantic Sun Conference is an 11-member league committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun stands for achievement with integrity in both the academic and athletic arenas, with a focus on the balance between the two for our student-athletes. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts five of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Belmont University, Campbell University, East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.