For the second year in a row, the Liberty Flames will go dancing.
The top-seeded Flames defeated No. 3 seed Lipscomb 73-57 in the Atlantic Sun tournament championship on Sunday as four players scored between 12 and 16 points, giving Liberty a balanced scoring attack in its most important game of the season.
Here’s everything you need to know about ASUN champion Liberty.
Liberty: Record, quick facts
Record: 30-4 (13-3 ASUN)
Conference standing: T-1st
NET ranking: No. 70 (as of March 8)
NCAA tournament appearances: 5th
Best NCAA tournament seed: No. 12 (2019)
Best NCAA tournament finish: Lost in the second round (2019)
Last season, for the first time in program history, Liberty made the NCAA tournament and earned a seed better than a No. 16 seed. The No. 12-seeded Flames earned a solid seed and made the most of it, upsetting No. 5 seed Mississippi State in the first round before falling to No. 4 seed Virginia Tech in the second round.
Well, it’s largely the same cast of characters this season for Liberty, which ranks 20th nationally in minutes continuity, according to kenpom.com. The Flames have built upon their success last season as they will enter Selection Sunday with a 30-4 record. They started the season 14-0, becoming one of the last undefeated teams in the country and they’ve won 11 of their last 12, with the only slip-up coming at Lipscomb in the regular season finale.
This is a Liberty team with four seniors and a junior in its rotation, plus a couple freshmen, so if you’re looking for a team with experience to pull off a first-round upset, maybe the Flames will be your pick.
Guard Caleb Homesley leads the team in scoring at 15.3 points per game, while fellow seniors Scottie James (10.9 ppg) and Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz (10.8 ppg) also average double figures.
The Flames had the best defense in the ASUN and the second most efficient offense. So don’t look at some of the low point totals in Liberty’s games and think the Flames can’t score. They play at the second-slowest tempo in the country (only Virginia plays at a slower tempo), but they tended to maximize their possessions all season long.
Liberty is excellent at getting high-percentage shots near the basket as the Flames are shooting 55.7 percent inside the arc, which ranks sixth nationally, and they turn the ball over just 15.2 percent of the time, which also ranks in the top 10 nationally. Defensively, the Flames are great at rebounding opponents’ misses (78.7% defensive rebounding percentage ranks fourth nationally) and opponents shoot just 30 percent from 3.
In a 2019-20 men’s basketball season that has been unpredictable and full of unknowns, Liberty has built off of its 2019 success and been a known commodity all season long. If you’re looking for a team that gets great looks from two, takes care of the ball and crashes the glass hard on defense, Liberty might be your team.