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UNC-Asheville figures to be a first round sacrifice in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, but the Bulldogs have at least been well tested: they played North Carolina, Georgetown, and Ohio State in the regular season, losing each game by double digits, and that may have helped toughen them up for their stretch run. After starting their season 13-13, Asheville finished with six straight wins, including victories by nine, 17, and 13 points in the Big South Conference Tournament to claim the conference's automatic NCAA Tournament berth. An NCAA Tournament win would be a new program pinnacle.
Record: 19-13, 11-7 in the Big South
RPI: 147 AS OF March 10th
Key wins: The Bulldogs' season-opening 70-69 win at Auburn on November 12 was the first sign that the Tigers might flirt with a historically bad season. But wins over Coastal Carolina on the Chanticleers' home court (61-58 on February 22, and 60-47 on March 5 in the Big South Tournament) were what punched UNC-Asheville's NCAA Tournament ticket.
Key losses: A 93-91 double overtime loss to miserable South Carolina Upstate on November 29 gave the Spartans one of just five wins this season. Another egregious loss, 76-73 to High Point, left UNC-Asheville 3-5 on December 2.
Players to watch: The Bulldogs live and die by their quick guards, who create turnovers on both sides of the ball (243rd in turnover percentage, 10th in defensive turnover percentage). J.P. Primm, Matt Dickey, and Chris Stephenson all factor into that steal-happy defense, each swiping the ball on over three percent of opponents' possessions. You may also remember Dickey from UNC-Asheville's buzzer-beater victory over Coastal Carolina in the regular season.