Tag:Big South
Posted on: March 5, 2012 12:38 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 12:39 pm

Winthop Fires Randy Peele

By Jeff Goodman

Winthrop has parted ways with Randy Peele. 

Peele took over five years ago after Gregg Marshall left for Wichita State. He was 77-82 in his tenure. 

“We are certainly very appreciative of the hard work and dedication shown by Coach Peele on behalf of this university over the past nine years, first as an assistant and then as head coach of our men's basketball program,” Winthrop athletic director Tom Hickman said. 

The Eagles were 25-39 in the last two seasons and 12-20 this year. It was Winthrop's first 20-loss campaign since 1997-98. 

Posted on: March 3, 2012 2:29 pm

Tiny Dancers: UNC-Asheville

We have our first official dance participant, as UNC-Asheville knocked off VMI in the Big South championship game, 80-64. Five players scored in double figures for the Bulldogs, who dominated the second half en route to the victory.

Asheville dominated the Big South regular season for much of the campaign, losing just two games and winning the league by four games. The Bulldogs have one of the nation’s most underrated backcourts in Matt Dickey and J.P. Primm, two experienced players who have been to the NCAA tournament before. Five guys average in double-figures and they really get up and down the floor.

Located in Asheville, N.C., the Bulldogs have been to the NCAA tournament twice in the past decade, going 2-0 in “play-in” games. Eddie Biedenbach’s group is going to be a pain for whichever No. 1 seed it faces. This year’s group is better than last season’s squad, which finished third in the conference but won the automatic bid.

Player to know: Matt Dickey. The 6-foot-1 senior guard is coming off a 15-point, six-assist, five-steal performance in the title game against VMI. He’s the team’s best scorer and has topped 20 points eight times this season. Dickey averaged 21.5 points last season in Asheville’s two NCAA tournament games. 

The Vitals:

  • Record: 24-9 overall, 16-2 in the Big South
  • Most recent tournament appearance: 2011, No. 16, beat Arkansas-Little Rock 81-77 in the opening round before losing 74-51 to Pittsburgh.
  • We’re thinking: 16
  • KenPom ranking: 123
  • Sagarin ranking: 128
  • RPI: 115
  • Best wins: USC-Upstate, Charleston Southern
  • Worst losses: Western Carolina, Coastal Carolina
  • Notable stat: UNC-Asheville ranks fourth nationally in free-throw percentage and fourth in free-throw rate.

-- Jeff Borzello

Posted on: March 3, 2012 10:19 am
Edited on: March 3, 2012 10:37 am

Championship game preview: Big South

No one expected this. 

Eddie Biedenbach's top-seeded Bulldogs were supposed to be here, but not the No. 7 seeded VMI Keydets. 

VMI edged Radford (55-53) in the opening round before pulling the upset over No. 2 Coastal Carolina in the quarterfinals. Then the Keydets knocked off sixth-seeded Winthrop to become the third No. 7 seed in league history to advance to the title game. 

The bad news, though, is that a seventh-seed has never won the league tourney. 

UNC Asheville has rolled through its two victories over High Point and Charleston Southern. The backcourt of J.P. Primm and Matt Dickey will look to lead the Bulldogs to a second consecutive NCAA tournament berth. 

-- Jeff Goodman
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 26, 2012 4:21 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 5:09 pm

What-to-know conference previews: Big South

UNC Asheville was the preseason pick to win the league after returning four starters. The Bulldogs didn't disappoint, rolling through the regular-season and tying the Big South mark with 16 conference wins.

Top-seeded UNC Asheville, who will attempt to defend their conference tourney title, earned homecourt advantage as they will host the quarterfinals and semis in their new on-campus facility, Kimmel Arena. The championship game is at the highest remaining seed. The Big South will also utilize a new format, featuring all 10 eligible teams in the field -- the largest in the event's history.

Eddie Biedenbach's team is a veteran group that's led by senior guards J.P. Primm, the school's all-time assists leader, and Matt Dickey, one of the top scorers in UNC Asheville history. It's one of the nation's most underrated backcourts and the primary reason why the Bulldogs are a potent offensive team.

Coastal Carolina earned the No. 2 seed after going 19-10 and 12-6 in league play and will open with the winner of the VMI-Radford game on Tuesday in the quarterfinals. The Chanticleers, who struggled down the stretch, are led by senior forward Chris Gradnigo and junior guard Anthony Raffa.

Campbell and Charleston Southern tied for third-place at 11-7. The Fighting Camels win games with their defense while Barclay Radebaugh's team, picked to finish eighth in the preseason poll, come into postseason play having won four of its last five games.

While UNC Asheville certainly appears as though its the team to beat, just once in the last four years has the top seed wound up winning the Big South tourney.


Title game: Saturday, March 3, ESPN or ESPN 2 (Noon ET)


  1. Matt Dickey, UNC Asheville
  2. J.P. Primm, UNC Asheville
  3. Nick Barbour, High Point
  4. Chris Gradnigo, Coastal Carolina
  5. Eric Griffin, Campbell

Conference RPI: 27

KenPom.com rating: 25

Sagarin rating: 26

NCAA Tournament Locks: None

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: None

Last NCAA Tournament Appearances:

Campbell Fighting Camels: 1992, 16 seed, an 82-56 loss to Duke

Charleston Southern Buccaneers: 1997, 15 seed, an 109-75 loss to UCLA

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers: 1993, 16 seed, an 83-54 loss to Michigan

Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs: N/A

High Point Panthers: N/A

Liberty Flames: 2004, 16 seed, an 83-62 loss to Saint Joseph's

Radford Highlanders: 2009, 16 seed, an 101-58 loss to North Carolina

UNC Asheville Bulldogs: 2011, a 81-77 overtime win over Arkansas-Little Rock followed by a 74-51 loss to Pittsburgh

VMI Keydets: 1977, an 93-78 loss to Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen

Winthrop Eagles: 2010, 16 seed, an 61-44 loss to Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the opening round >

-- Jeff Goodman
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 24, 2012 1:09 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 7:12 pm

The tightest league races right now

Drexel and George Mason are two of five teams chasing down the CAA crown. Many conference races remain four-team-or-more chases nearly halfway through league play. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Matt Norlander

We’re now more than halfway through the college basketball season (blink long enough and conference tournaments will be there before your eyes as you open them), and what intrigues me is the number of conferences with good races/clogs at the top. I wanted to see which leagues had the best tussles for supremacy right now, so I’ve laid them out on the table, so to speak. In three weeks, separation will become natural and many of the conferences featured below will either see the top of its respective mountains less crowded — or perhaps find a late bloomer making a spirited run.

For now, these are among the tightest, densest races and chases going in college hoops right now. Yes, there had to be some ground rules. First of all, you couldn’t be from the Pac-12. Secondly, you couldn’t be from any of the major conferences, because we’re all very aware of those marathons. Plus, those leagues are covered in a column I wrote today. To be fair to sample size, I set a bar: each team had to have played a minimum of seven conference games, eliminating C-USA for now, which could become really enrapturing, and the Atlantic 10 which, as of this post, had teams 1 through 12 with one to three losses. No one knows what’s going to happen in that league. As Tony Horton would say, “I hate it, but I love it.” Both of those conferences will get standalone posts on their prospects near the end of the month.

Lastly, conferences that qualified for this post needed at least four teams within two games of each other in the loss column in the top of the standings. You’ll notice I use points per possession and points per possession allowed in addition to league/overall marks. The format is similar to John Gasaway’s super Tuesday Truths, only I’m not using efficiency margins as means of ranking, and the PPP metrics are for all games, not in-conference, which John uses.

Here they are, college basketball’s six closest non-Big Six conference chases.


Team                     League   Overall      PPP     PPPA

George Mason          8-1       16-5         1.04    0.92
VCU                            7-2       16-5         1.04    0.90
Drexel                         7-2       15-5         1.03    0.89
Old Dominion            7-2       12-9         0.96    0.92
Georgia State            6-3       14-6         1.02    0.86

Prior to the start of the weekend, the Colonial was the only conference with a viable six-team quest. Since then, Northeastern fell out of favor. How about Mason, eh? That’s my preseason CAA pick. And it doesn’t play any of the top six teams again until Feb. 4, when it gets ODU. Speaking of the Monarchs, Old Dominion challenged itself greatly in the non-con, so the overall record doesn’t do justice to the ceiling that team has. Drexel, by the way, was the coaches’ pick for conference winner back in October. But it ain’t October no mo’.

Few leagues have been as defensively stout as the CAA. Its collective .97 points-per-possession-allowed is the best of any conference listed here. Georgia State still leads the league in efficiency margin — something to keep an eye on.

Upcoming games between top teams:

Georgia State at Drexel, Wednesday
VCU at Georgia State, Saturday


Team                   League    Overall     PPP     PPPA

Long Island             8-0       14-6         1.06    1.01
Wagner                     6-2       15-4         1.08    0.94
Central Conn.          6-2        9-9          1.02    1.00
Robert Morris           5-2       15-6         1.05    0.96
St. Francis (NY)       6-2       9-10         0.98    0.98

The Northeast Conference’s chase has been a long time coming. Four of the five teams fared well in the non-con, even CCSU, which is treading water overall. But Central Connecticut also could have the league’s best player, Ken Horton, and the best freshman, Kyle Vinales. Plenty’s already been written about Wagner (which could easily be 14-5, not 15-4), but now that LIU is still undefeated, the defending NEC champs should see an uptick in pub, including on this here blog.

It must be noted, again, that Robert Morris is playing so well despite suspending its best player, Karon Abraham, for the season. How many teams could duplicate that?

Upcoming games between top teams:

Long Island at Robert Morris, Thursday
St. Francis (NY) at Robert Morris, Saturday

Big South

Team                   League    Overall     PPP     PPPA

UNC-Asheville           9-1       14-7         1.15    1.02
Campbell                    8-2       14-8         1.08    1.03
Coastal Carolina       7-2       14-5         1.09    0.94
Charleston Southern 7-3       13-7         1.1     1.01

The Big South is the best league you don’t’ know anything about. Yeah, defense isn’t the motto — but the teams can score! And they can win out of conference, too; Charleston Southern is graded out to a top-20 non-con strength of schedule, according to KenPom.com.

Upcoming games between top teams:

Campbell at Asheville, Saturday

Rob Jones and the Gaels are off to the best start in league play since 1959. (AP)


Team                   League    Overall     PPP     PPPA

Saint Mary’s              8-0       19-2         1.17    0.91
Gonzaga                    6-1       16-3         1.1     0.94
Brigham Young         6-2       17-5         1.11    0.90
Loyola Marymount    5-2       12-8         1.01    0.96

Who knew Saint Mary’s would be THIS good? Tough games are upcoming, but still, the Gaels haven’t ever started West Coast Conference play 8-0 before. They started 8-0 in ’58-’59, back when they were a part of the West Coast Athletic Conference, which became the WCC. Kudos to them. What I love about this race is how each team can score — and isn’t allowing more than a point per possession. Some good old fashioned domination going on. I like Gonzaga to ultimately win the league in the regular season. Marymount’s going to remain to be a problem for everyone, though.

Upcoming games between top teams:

Saint Mary’s at Marymount, Thursday
Saint Mary’s at BYU, Saturday


Team                   League    Overall     PPP     PPPA

Cleveland State       7-2       17-4         1.04    0.92
Valparaiso                7-2       14-7         1.08    1.01
UW-Milwaukee        6-3       13-8         0.98    0.93
Butler                         6-3       12-9         0.97    0.95
Youngstown State    6-3       11-8         1.03    1.00

Look at cute little Butler, just hiding in the weeds at 12-9 and tied for second. It’s no secret this Bulldogs team has had trouble scoring, but at least they’re still, just barely, better on O than D. Cleveland State has done very well for itself, but I think the Horizon, which ends league play Feb. 25, before most other leagues, will see four teams own the top spot before the season ends. I don’t think Youngstown State is worth taking seriously, but they met the qualifications and are playing better than Milwaukee. Then again, the Penguins have had a much easier schedule than the Panthers.  

Upcoming games between top teams:

Butler at Milwaukee, Thursday
Cleveland State at Youngstown State, Saturday
Valpo at Milwaukee, Saturday


Team                   League    Overall     PPP     PPPA

Iona                        7-2       15-5         1.14    1.00
Manhattan             7-2       14-7         1.01    0.93
Loyola                    7-2       14-5         1.01    0.96
Fairfield                 5-3       10-9         1.00    0.96

In the preseason I expected Fairfield to narrow past Iona for the league title. Then it became clear the Gaels were far superior to the Stags, who are enduring one of the most disappointing seasons of any team in the country. They’re barely keeping chase to make this feature. Now Iona’s staggered after blowing an 18-point lead to Siena Monday night. Siena, as you can see, is not even in position to win the MAAC right now. The Gaels are still the best team this league has by a wide margin, but now they’re not to be trusted, despite having three all league-level players in Scott Machado, Mike Glover and MoMo Jones.

Manhattan has transformed itself in the first year under Steve Masiello. What a job. And talking to some in the league in the preseason, they expected Loyola to be a top-three team. That’s true so far.

Upcoming games between top teams:

Iona at Fairfield, Friday
Posted on: March 5, 2011 6:14 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2011 6:22 pm

Welcome to the Dance, UNC-Asheville Bulldogs

Heading into the Big South tournament, UNC-Asheville was playing arguably the best basketball in the league. The Bulldogs proved that over the course of three games, culminating in a 60-47 victory over top-seeded Coastal Carolina on the Chanticleers’ homecourt. Forward John Williams played one of his best games of the season, posting 10 points, nine rebounds and six blocks. Head coach Eddie Biedenbach, the conference’s all-time winningest head coach, will be in the NCAA Tournament for the second time since coming to Asheville 15 years ago.

UNC-Asheville, one of the many branches in the University of North Carolina system, has an undergraduate enrollment of fewer than 3,500. The Bulldogs have won four Big South conference titles, reaching the NCAA Tournament once, in 2003, when they finished 15-17 but won the conference tournament. They went to the NIT in 2008, after a 23-win season. Asheville has had 23 winning seasons since starting its program in 1964.

Player to know: Matt Dickey. Although Dickey was inconsistent towards the end of the season, he is capable of carrying the Bulldogs. He scored 29 points in the tournament opener against Charleston Southern, then followed it with 18 points, six rebounds and six assists in the semifinals. On the season, Dickey averaged 15.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists.

The Vitals:

  • Record: 19-13, 11-7 Big South
  • Team colors: Royal blue and white
  • We’re thinking: 16-seed
  • KenPom ranking: 150
  • RPI: 176
  • Best win: Coastal Carolina, twice (28-5)
  • Worst loss: USC-Upstate (5-25)
  • Notable stat: The Bulldogs rank ninth in the country in steals per game, racking up 9.3 per game.
  • Most recent tournament history: 2003. Defeated Texas Southern in the opening-round game, lost to Texas in the first round.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Jeff Borzello

More College Basketball coverage
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Big South, BSOU
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