CHARLOTTE, N.C.- The Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers will again be the hunted in 2019-20 as the Bucs will open the season as the #3 ranked team in the country as released by the NJCAA National Office on Monday.
The Bucs spent the final six weeks of last year's regular season as the #1 ranked team in the country in route to a 30-3 campaign. As impressive as that is alone, it becomes even more remarkable knowing that the Bucs' three losses in 2019 came by a total of just six points, including two one point losses in the postseason. FSW went a perfect 12-0 in Suncoast Conference play to claim their third straight Conference Championship. Their resume included wins over #5 Eastern Florida State, #8 Salt Lake, and #12 Indian Hills, with their only losses coming to #1 Northwest Florida State (twice), and #4 Coffeyville in overtime.
FSW returns four players off of last year's 30 win squad including All-Conference performer Keon Ellis who was earlier named to Street & Smith's Super Sophs Team. Playing behind a pair of Power 5 signees, Ellis 8.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per game a season ago, seeing action in all 33 games for the Bucs, including drawing six starts. The Bucs get their starting point guard back for 2019-20 as Jalen Finch, who started 21 games as a rookie a year ago, returns to the fold after averaging 5.7 points and 3.7 assists per game to lead the team. Also returning for FSW are 6'8 De'Lazarus Keys and 6'10 Simeon Kirkland, bringing 60 games of experience to the Bucs' front court this season.
Lots of familiar faces dot the top 10 of the rankings including the two teams that played for the 2019 National Championship in Vincennes and Ranger at #1 and #2 in front of the Bucs. Behind FSW at #4 is John A. Logan, opening weekend opponent Eastern Florida St. at #5, NJCAA National Tournament foe from a season ago Indian Hills at #6, as well as Chipola, South Plains, Moberly Area, and Hutchinson to round out the top 10. Overall, five of the top 16 teams in the rankings are from the FCSAA while three 2019-20 FSW opponents check into the top 20 (#5 Eastern Florida, #7 Chipola, and #20 Snow).
The Bucs open their season on November 1st in Suncoast Credit Union Arena where they will battle Broward on opening night. The marquee game of the weekend comes on Saturday though as #3 FSW will take on #5 Eastern Florida in a heavyweight battle right off the tip of the 2019-20 season.