Here is the first thing you need to know about the Big South: Winthrop is good. Very good. So good that they are undefeated in conference play, won the conference outright with games to play, and will get to host the tournament on their home floor.
You read that right: They will get to host the post-season tournament on their floor because the Big South rewards the best play during the season by letting the top four teams host the first round on their home courts. The semifinals are held on the regular season champion’s floor and the final is at the home of the highest remaining seed. So it is at a team’s advantage to win the regular season, since they will pretty much get home court advantage as long as the winning continues.
Which brings us back to Winthrop. The Eagles are 25-4, with their losses being to North Carolina, Maryland, Wisconsin, and Texas A&M. All four games were closer than what the final score says. They are among the Top 5 in the conference in scoring, rebounds, field-goal shooting and lead the league in 3-point shooting. They are the odds on favorite to win this thing for the seventh time in the last nine years and even if they don’t win it all, they will mostly likely get a spot in the tournament.
High Point is second in the league with a 21-9 overall record and a 11-3 record in conference. They, like Winthrop, has losses to UNC and Maryland. Unlike Winthrop those losses are bad, losing by 25 and 18 points respectively. They do have some wins over Covenant College, Chowan University, and Lees-McRae College. If you’ve never heard of these schools before then you’re not alone. While they have the best rebounder in the league (Arizona Reid), as a team don’t crack the Top 5. The Panthers do rank among the best in the conference in scoring, 3-point shooting and field-goal shooting, and have several players who individual stats rank in the top of the conference.
Liberty’s conference record is 8-6 with an overall losing record in 14-16. At least they played respectable teams out-of-conference, losing to Oklahoma, Seton Hall, and Florida. I don’t understand how this team isn’t better, as they are in the top 5 in the league in all the big categories and have several players who are individually among the best statistically in the league.
Coastal Carolina will come into the tournament with a meager 7-7 conference record and an overall record of 15-14. The Chanticleers have losses to Campbell, Jacksonville, and South Carolina St. which aren’t the cream of the crop. Hell, they didn’t even attempt to play the best teams, as the only impressive non-conference team they played was Florida State. Despite the lackluster record, CC does have two players among the leaders in field-goal shooting and Mike Jefferson is 2nd in the league in assists.
The last four team really aren’t worth mentioning in detail, but I’ll give you their names and records-
UNC Asheville: 11-18, 6-8
VMI: 12-18, 5-9
Radford: 8-21, 3-11
Charleston Southern: 8-21, 2-12
I really don’t expect anyone other than Winthrop to win the tournament. They have not only the NCAA Tournament in the back of their minds, but also seeding. I would be mildly shocked if High Point won this thing, but it could happen as the last two games have been close with High Point coming out just a bit short. If Coastal, Liberty, or any other team is wins, expect them to have a 14th seed at best.
2006-2007 Big South All-Hot Team
Note: Boo on Radford for not having team photos.