Mark Bryant, the Coordinator of New Media for the Big South Conference and writer for Big South SHOUT, is an RTC correspondent.
The launch of the 2008-09 season has seen some national attention and notable success for the Big South, mixed in with some results below expectations as well. Here’s the rundown:
Out of Conference…
After well over a dozen games so far against major conference squads, most have naturally gone to the favorites on their home courts, but Big South squads certainly turned heads with two quality upsets. VMI struck first by dumping Kentucky 111-103 at Rupp Arena. It was the first win for the Keydets against a team from the SEC since 1975-76 (Tennessee). Of course, it’s the second consecutive year for the Wildcats to fall to a current Big South school: Gardner-Webb defeated UK as an Atlantic Sun team last year. Heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, Liberty added a notch in the upset column for the Flames by upending the Virginia Cavaliers 86-82. UVa had already collected wins over VMI and Radford, but the ACC’s Cavs failed to sweep the Virginia set of Big South hoopsters thanks to LU. Outside of those two big games, there were some close results, but let’s not resort to discussing any clichéd “moral victories” versus the big boys of the ACC, SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, Big East, etc. (Note—major upcoming match-ups between Thanksgiving and Christmas include a trio of biggies for UNC Asheville: North Carolina, Tennessee, and Duke!)