Big South Tourney Preview
Some of the most obscure conferences in the country begin tournament play tonight: the Ohio Valley, the Horizon and the Big South. The latter will, of course, generate intense local interest, what with three local teams participating. The three teams, it should be noted, all failed to crack the Atlantic 11 this season, although VMI's late-season surge in last year's tournament briefly earned Atlantic 11 recognition. What you need to know.
1) Opening round matchups: No. 2 Winthrop hosts No. 7 Radford, No. 3 High Point hosts No. 6 Coastal Carolina, No. 1 UNC Asheville hosts No. 8 Charleston Southern, and No. 4 Liberty hosts No. 5 VMI. All games are at 7 pm. Semifinals are Thursday, and the final is Saturday.
2) VMI advanced to the final last season as the sixth seed, before falling at Winthrop. Winthrop has won seven of the past nine titles, with Liberty and Asheville taking the other two tournament berths.
3) In a gesture of enormous generosity, Liberty announced that students will receive free admission to tonight's game. Admission was to have been $3. It's the second year in a row VMI and Liberty will play in a BS quarterfinal.
4) High Point senior forward Arizona Reid and UNC Asheville head coach Eddie Biedenbach have been voted as the 2007-08 Big South Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Year and Coach of the Year, respectively, by the League's head coaches, sports information directors and media panel, it was announced Monday morning by the Conference office. Biedenbach guided UNC Asheville to its first top seed in the league's tourney in a decade.
5) Three-time league scholar of the year, Coastal Carolina's Jack Leasure, introduced Barack Obama when he visited campus this fall. He's also the league's all-time leader in three pointers made, topping Radford's Doug Day.
6) Radford's Chris Gaynor is the league's all-time leader in steals.
7) VMI's coach on Liberty: "Really, there's nobody I want to play in the tournament. Everybody is good from top to bottom, so I really think anything can happen this year." Liberty's coach on VMI: "I don't think any of us would choose to play VMI."
8) VMI has two twin brothers who sometimes are called for a foul committed by the other brother. I figured officials used uniform number rather than facial features in calling infractions, but maybe not.
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