The college golf season has returned, and Golfweek is here to preview each conference as we enter the spring season. From Jan. 11 to Feb. 10, we'll look at the favorites, contenders and sleepers from every conference in men's college golf. Below is the preview for the Southern Conference.
• Conference championship: Pinehurst (N.C.) No. 9, April 24-26
• Defending champion: ETSU
• Conference members (Golfweek ranking in parentheses): East Tennessee State (51), North Carolina-Greensboro (63), Chattanooga (102), Wofford (132), Furman (136), Mercer (169), Samford (200), Western Carolina (205)
• Conference favorite: East Tennessee State. The Bucs are the defending champs in the SoCon while senior Adrian Meronk, ranked 38th by Golfweek this season, is the defending individual runner-up. Meronk is joined in the lineup by fellow senior (Gudmundur Kristjansson) and a junior (Mateusz Gradecki), so this is an experience team. ETSU also played the 14th toughest schedule in the country in the fall.
• Could challenge: North Carolina-Greensboro. The Spartans are right behind ETSU in the Golfweek rankings and posted four top 5s in the fall. James Mishoe is no longer on the roster (he was ranked 665th after the fall), but UNCG did add junior-college transfer Joseph Cansler this spring. Junior Jake McGlone and senior Taylor Coalson are a nice one-two punch.
• Sleeper: Chattanooga. The Mocs are a notch below ETSU and UNCG, but junior Wes Gosselin will keep Chattanooga relevant come April.
• Midseason All-Conference team:Adrian Meronk, ETSU (senior); Tyler Lail, Western Carolina (senior); Jake McGlone, North Carolina-Greensboro (junior); Wes Gosselin, Chattanooga (junior); Taylor Coalson, North Carolina-Greensboro (senior)
The Bucs, who earned their 24th NCAA postseason appearance last season, open the spring campaign on Monday, Feb. 15 at The Prestige in La Quinta, Calif.
For more information on Buccaneer men's golf, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's golf tab.