The stage for the men’s basketball Peach Belt Conference Tournament is set.
In the East Division USC Aiken is the top dog, claiming the PBC regular season title outright. Behind them is GRU Augusta, Lander and Francis Marion.
Montevallo clinched its third straight West Division title Feb. 23 with an 85-72 home win over Young Harris. And the remaining spots consist of Georgia Southwestern, North Georgia and Columbus State.
Out of the eight teams entering the tourney there are three that stand out and appear superior to their competitors.
The USC Aiken Pacers (26-3, 18-1) claimed the tournament crown last year, and are poised for a repeat. The National Association of Basketball Coaches Division II polls have the Pacers ranked at No. 8, and they have played at the national level for a majority of the regular season.
In the Pacers’ backcourt they may have two of the best guards in the PBC, Ronald Zimmerman and DeVontae Wright.
Zimmerman is the team’s top scorer, averaging 17.3 points a night, and Wright is the leader in assists with 5.2 a game.
The only PBC opponent to defeat the Pacers in conference play was the GRU Augusta Jaguars. The Jaguars claimed a landmark victory Feb. 1 by going into the Pacers’ backyard and coming out with a 97-84 victory.
As the No. 2 seed in the East, the Jaguars (22-6, 15-4) are a serious contender. The team not only proved capable of defeating the Pacers, but every other team in the conference tournament.
The Jaguars’ specialty is offense. The team averages 79.3 points a night, 48.4 percent from the floor and 37.9 percent from downtown.
Although the Jaguars are loaded with weapons, their biggest threats maybe forward KJ Sherrill and guard Ryan Weems. Both players led the team in points averaged a game. Weems led the way with 15.2 a night and Sherrill at 14.7.
The Montevallo Falcons (22-4, 15-4) are another offensive juggernaut, averaging 79.7 points a night. The Falcons’ go-to guy would be forward Larry Slaughter.
The 6-foot-8 junior is extremely efficient with his shot selection. From the field, Slaughter sinks 57.3 percent of his baskets.
Similar to the Pacers, the Falcons have also spent a lot of time in the top 25, and currently stand at No. 21 in the country.
The contest, officially named the Marvin Vanover Peach Belt Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament presented by Jani-King, will take place Mach 6-9 in Columbus.
The quarterfinal matchups will include USC Aiken vs. North Georgia, Young Harris vs. Lander, GRU Augusta vs. Georgia Southwestern and Francis Marion vs. Montevallo.