Conference Tourney Primers: Big South

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 4th, 2015

It’s the start of Championship Fortnight, so let’s gear up for the next 13 days of games by breaking down each of the Other 26’s conference tournaments as they get under way.

Big South Tournament

Dates: March 4, 6-8

Site: HTC Center (Conway, SC)

bigsouth

What to expect: Charleston Southern and High Point claimed the top two seeds but positioning probably won’t matter all that much this week. As recently as early February, seven of the Big South’s 11 teams were tied for first place, each showing an ability to defeat (and be defeated by) any other team in the conference. In fact, only once since 2010 has the top overall seed in this tournament actually reached the NCAA Tournament – a testament to the league’s remarkable parity. Both the Bucs and Panthers, along with Winthrop, Radford, Coastal Carolina and perhaps others are good enough to claim the automatic bid. Count on several close games, a few sizable comebacks and maybe even a buzzer-beater, but don’t count on any one team.

Favorite: High Point. High Point is the Big South’s highest-rated team in KenPom and has its best and most athletic player in 6’8’’ forward John Brown. Before losing in triple-overtime at Charleston Southern on Saturday, the Panthers were also the league’s hottest team, having won five games in a row.

Darkhorse: Radford. The Highlanders tied for second place with Winthrop and Coastal Carolina, so calling them a ‘darkhorse’ might be a stretch. But they are the #4 seed and do have a legitimate chance to make a run. Radford swept both Winthrop and High Point this season and would likely play those clubs in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. Plus, they are the third-most experienced team in the country, which should count for something.

Who wins: Coastal Carolina. Coastal Carolina hosts the event for a third straight year – an undeniable (if unfair) advantage. Despite their inconsistent Big South campaign, the Chanticleers have the league’s best backcourt and nearly toppled Ole Miss back in December. In fact, most of the guys are back from last season’s NCAA Tournament unit that led #1 seed Virginia at halftime. Expect the talent, tournament experience and home court advantage to make the difference.

Player to watch: Saah Nimley – Charleston Southern. Nimley is just 5’8” but he can flat-out score. The senior dropped 36 points after halftime in the Buccaneers’ triple-overtime, #1-seed-clinching victory over High Point on Saturday – his seventh 30-point game of the season. And there might not be better player in America at drawing contact on three-point attempts.

Another player to watch: John Brown – High Point. He’s skilled. He’s freakishly athletic. His career dunk montage will probably end up longer than the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Don’t miss this guy.

Tommy Lemoine (249 Posts)


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