Checking in on the… Big South

Posted by nvr1983 on February 6th, 2009

Mark Bryant, the Coordinator of New Media for the Big South Conference and writer of Big South SHOUT, is an RTC correspondent.

The Big South had a small tremor at the top, but it still divides out into three tiers as we work through early February:

The Dynamic Duo
VMI and Radford are on top of the heap these days and rightfully so. With VMI’s rapid-fire assault and Radford’s inside-outside game, they have been the two teams to beat in Big South play this season. VMI’s hold on the lead took a blow with a surprising home loss to UNC-Asheville (103-95) that, coupled with a Radford win at Winthrop the same night (59-55), created a deadlock at 9-2. Strangely enough both the Keydets and Highlanders have suffered a pair of home losses yet they remain spotless on the road in conference play.

Fight to the Finish
The middle ground in the Big South battle finds five teams clustered together as we march into the second half of the conference schedule. Don’t forget that the top four teams will host quarterfinal games in the conference tournament so getting one of those four seeds carries a lot of weight. If one assumes that two of those slots belong to VMI and Radford (a sensible assumption although still far from a lock), that means only two of these five will earn the bonus home game. Presbyterian College’s ineligibility for postseason play this year bumps the Blue Hose from the group, so here’s who’s in the hunt: Liberty (7-5, fresh off of a 95-90 loss at GWU), Gardner-Webb (also 7-5, thanks to that big win over the Flames), UNC-Asheville (6-6, with a clutch win over VMI on the resume now), and Winthrop (struggling at 5-7 but the four-time defending champ is still in the discussion).

A Long Way Down
It’s going to take an incredible change of fortune to see the remaining three teams make much noise. Away from Conway, Coastal Carolina is 0-4 in the Big South and sits at 3-8 in league play. Charleston Southern and High Point, the bottom two conference teams, share a pair of dubious traits: only two wins each (CSU 2-8, HPU 2-10) and NO Big South wins at home (each 0-5).

The Big Picture
Overall, the best records are owned by VMI (18-4) and Liberty (16-8). At this stage, one would think VMI would create the greatest match-up headaches for NCAA foes, and that’s likely true, but don’t overlook the shooters at Liberty (Preseason Player of the Year Anthony Smith, early favorite for Freshman of the Year Seth Curry, and others with dead aim like Kyle Ohman) or the strength of Radford (with performers like Preseason All-Conference Joey Lynch-Flohr).

Seeing Double…or More
Identical twins and VMI star players Travis and Chavis Holmes have been getting plenty of attention as the highest-scoring twins the college game has seen. They have already had an interview on ESPN’s First Take, an item in ESPN The Magazine, a feature article in Sports Illustrated, and countless write-ups in papers across the region. The Holmes boys have earned the attention and they handle it well.

Upcoming Games of Note

  • 2/7, Gardner-Webb at VMI
  • 2/7, Winthrop at Liberty
  • 2/11, Gardner-Webb at UNC Asheville
  • 2/14, Radford at UNC Asheville
  • 2/18, Winthrop at Gardner-Webb
nvr1983 (1398 Posts)

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