The Big South has a lot of pretty decent teams this year, although none sticks out as clearly better than everybody else. According to Ken Pomeroy, 31 percent of its games this year have been close finishes, more than any other conference in the country. Nobody ran away from the field in the standings, and a handful of teams could win the tournament.
High Point and Winthrop tied atop the standings at 13-5 in league play, with High Point winning the top seed on a tiebreaker despite being outscored by 18 points in a 1-1 season series split. The league is a mix of 12-6, 10-8 and 9-9 teams in the group below them, with four 5-13 teams setting up as clear bottom feeders.
Not surprisingly, High Point and Winthrop have some of league's best players. John Brown averaged 19.6 points and 7.1 rebounds to lead the top-seeded Panthers by a lot in both categories, while Winthrop has three players pulling the sled: guards Keon Johnson and Jimmy Gavin, and forward Xavier Cooks. Johnson, in particular, is a lot of fun – if you like 5'7 guards who post 20 points and four rebounds per game while shooting 40 percent on threes and 80 percent at the line.
This is a unique layout, with all 11 teams in the conference automatically qualifying for the tournament. The bottom six teams each meet up in first-round games on Thursday, with the winners joining No. 5 seed Liberty in matching up against the top four seeds in the quarterfinals. From there, it's a standard structure. The games are split between the Pope Center and Gore Arena in Buies Creek, N.C.
1. High Point
3. Coastal Carolina
4. UNC Asheville
9. Charleston Southern
You can see the whole bracket here.
Schedule and Results (all times Eastern)
Thursday, March 3 (First Round)
Game 1: No. 8 Longwood 75, No. 9 Charleston Southern 69
Game 2: No. 10 Presbyterian 65, No. 7 Radford 64
Game 3: No. 6 Gardner-Webb 79, No. 11 Campbell 69
Friday, March 4 (Quarterfinals)
Game 4: No. 1 High Point 89, No. 8 Longwood 78
Game 5: No. 4 UNC Asheville 80, No. 5 Liberty 49
Game 6: No. 2 Winthrop 67, No. 10 Presbyterian 53
Game 7: No. 6 Gardner-Webb 69, No. 3 Coastal Carolina 65
Saturday, March 5 (Semifinals)
Game 8: No. 4 UNC Asheville 80, No. 1 High Point 69
Game 9: No. 2 Winthrop 82, No. 6 Gardner-Webb 69
Sunday, March 6 (Championship)
Game 10: No. 4 UNC Asheville 77, No. 2 Winthrop 68