The 97th Southern Conference tournament kicks off Thursday with four women’s games at the U.S. Cellular Center.
The nation’s oldest college basketball tournament opens at 11 a.m. with top seed Mercer (27-2) playing No. 8 Western Carolina (5-23). The Bears went through regular season league play with a 14-0 record and have won 24 straight games, the third longest streak in the country.
The 1:15 p.m. game pits No. 4 Furman (17-12) vs. No. 5 Samford (14-15). The teams split their regular-season meetings, with both winning at home.
No. 2 East Tennessee State (18-11) plays No. 7 Wofford (10-19) at 3:30 p.m.
In the nightcap, No. 3 Chattanooga (17-11) battles No. 6 UNC Greensboro (11-17) at 6 p.m.
Chattanooga has long dominated this event, winning the last five SoCon tourney titles.
All four games are on ESPN3.
Thursday’s four winners square off in semifinal play on Friday at 11 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.
Later Friday, the men’s tournament begins with No. 8 seed The Citadel (10-20) playing No. 9 Virginia Military (9-20) at 5 p.m. No. 7 Samford (10-21) squares off against No. 10 Chattanooga (9-22) at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday’s play features four men’s quarterfinal games that begin at noon.
The women’s championship game is noon Sunday, and the men’s title game is 9 p.m. Monday.
Tickets are available via Tickemaster and the U.S. Cellular Center box office (259-5736).