Big South (conference rank: 28th)
Feb. 28, Mar. 2, 3, 5
First round at higher seed, Quarters/semis at Winthrop, Championship at higher seed.
kPOY: Ahmad Thomas, UNC Asheville.
Regular season champ: UNC Asheville (preseason #205 / 2nd Big South, current #99) and Winthrop (preseason #128 / 1st Big South, current #113)
Overachiever: UNC Asheville (preseason #205, current #99)
Underachiever: Longwood (preseason #329, current #348)
While the Big South as a whole got significantly weaker this season, the top of the conference is as healthy as its been in a while. Winthrop secured the trappings of hosting the quarters and semis (and title game should they make it) by virtue of a tiebreaker over UNC-Asheville. But UNC-Asheville is the highest rated team in the league, sitting just inside the top 100 at press time. That’s a serious achievement for a Big South team. Should the Bulldogs finish in the top 100 it would be the first Big South team to do that since Gregg Marshall’s last Winthrop team finished #51 in 2007.
In fact, Winthrop, currently at #113 could also do it. The Eagles own the league’s most impressive non-conference win, having defeated Illinois in Champaign back on November 21. But UNCA has sneaky good road wins over Elon and Furman, too. Either team could enjoy a reasonably competitive NCAA tournament matchup if they get there and enough chaos occurs in other conference tournaments.
As good as the top of the league has been, the bottom has been dreadful. Longwood improbably started league play at 3-0. They enter the conference tournament at 3-15 and ranked as the fourth-worst team in D-I. Presbyterian did its part to try and make #nowinlessteams a reality by beating Longwood at home for its only conference win. But the Blue Hose are rated as the second-worst team in the country. Both teams figure to lose in road games Tuesday night and if either team wins the tournament, the feat will rank among the unlikeliest events in human history.
Qtrs Semis Final Champ 1 Winthrop 100 94.3 78.1 52.5 2 UNC Asheville 100 89.4 68.4 34.4 3 Liberty 100 66.3 21.7 6.3 4 Gardner Webb 100 63.6 14.8 4.3 5 High Point 100 36.4 5.5 1.2 6 Radford 100 33.7 6.3 0.8 7 Campbell 89.2 10.4 3.6 0.3 8 Charleston Southern 87.4 5.6 1.6 0.2 10 Presbyterian 10.8 0.2 0.03 <.001 9 Longwood 12.6 0.09 0.007 <.001