Following last night’s 97-31 victory by Eastern Kentucky, the SCGD returns to more competitive action tonight as our focus shifts over to the Big South Conference. Last season, UNC-Asheville took the conference tournament championship to advance to the NCAA tournament. This year, the Big South has expanded to 12 teams and two divisions with the addition of Longwood. The defending champions are half a game out of first place is the South Division, behind Charleston Southern. While the Bulldogs host Winthrop tonight, it is the game involving the first place team that gets our attention.
The Buccaneers of Charleston Southern stand at 7-1, first place in their division, and have the best record in the conference. They are 12-7 overall. After starting the season losing 5 of their first 6 games, they have only lost twice, once at Wichita State, and the other time being upset last week by Gardner-Webb in overtime. The Bucs are led by Saah Nimley who has scored 20 or more points in each of his last three games.
Tonight, the conference leaders try to rebound from their first loss of the season when they head out on the road to battle Coastal Carolina (7:00 PM Eastern). The Chanticleers are 5-4 in conference and 10-10 overall, including wins over both Akron and Clemson. However, they have had more than their share of bad losses, including Tennessee Tech, Liberty and Winthrop. CCU has won 7 straight home games and is led by Anthony Raffa and Kierre Greenwood, who reached the 450 career assist mark last time out.
In terms of postseason implications, the Big South has been one of the weakest overall conferences all season, holding the second worst conference RPI among leagues with automatic bids. Charleston Southern enters with an RPI of 184, while CCU has an RPI of 265. Their KenPom ratings are not much better, sitting at 163 and 200 respectively. What this most likely means is that, barring some crazy upsets during Championship Week, the Big South champion is destined for a trip to Dayton and a First Four matchup against another #16 seed.