One week ago, Liberty was 19-1 overall and 5-0 in ASUN play and the Flames were receiving votes in the AP Top 25 poll while ranked No. 24 in the NET rankings.
Things have certain changed in that regard.
Liberty lost both games this week in Florida, falling to North Florida by one and Stetson by five. Both were surprising, but the Stetson loss more so as they were picked to finish last in the conference while UNF was expected to challenge the Flames for the ASUN title.
The Hatters are ranked No. 302 in the KenPom rankings, even after beating Liberty, but they have been a much better team over the past month under first year head coach Donnie Jones and five freshmen. Since December 30, Stetson is 6-2 with a win over South Carolina and both of their losses coming by a combined 7 points, including one in overtime.
The Flames had a chance to take control of the ASUN regular season title chase this week, but after dropping both games, nothing has really changed for the 19-3 Liberty Flames.
After dropping from No. 24 to No. 72 in the NET rankings, Liberty will not be in play for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, but the Flames were probably going to be on the outside looking in on that debate, if needed, anyways. The NCAA Selection Committee has never gone out of their way to accommodate teams from mid- to low-major conferences, and there were too many holes in Liberty’s resume to be a lock.
Entering the final week of January, Liberty is still in full control of its destiny. North Florida lost Saturday at Lipscomb, forcing a three-way tie atop the ASUN standings at 5-2 between the Flames, Ospreys and Hatters. Both UNF and Stetson still have to come to Lynchburg, and if the Flames were to win out they would win the regular season title and host the ASUN Tournament.
North Florida and Stetson square off Thursday night in DeLand while Liberty faces 1-19 Kennesaw State at the Vines Center.
Liberty still has everything left to play for. The Flames can still win the ASUN title, both regular season and tournament, and advance to the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive season. Liberty has a resume that warrants a good seed too, somewhere in the 11-13 range depending on how the rest of the season goes.
Did they have a bad week? Yes, but all teams go through this at times. Kentucky lost to Evansville. Duke lost to Stephen F. Austin and is coming off back-to-back losses in conference. Virginia won the National Championship last year and will struggle to get back to the Big Dance this season.
Keep your heads up and come out and support the team this week as they try to get back on track.