The Big South is one of those postseason tournaments that is not played on a neutral court but rather at the campus sites and I really wish it wasn’t. Sure the campus environment does provide a great small gym atmosphere but if this tournament was on a neutral court I think there are about 5 teams that could have a realistic shot of winning. As it stands now there is really only 1 team I see winning and them maybe one live longshot.
UNC Asheville was 13-1 this year at Kimmel Arena and I just don’t see anybody going in there and beating them. The lone loss came when Liberty hit a buzzer beater to force overtime. Led by coach Nick McDevitt, the Bulldogs are a small, veteran team that is extremely athletic. They play an aggressive 1-3-1 matchup zone that has ranked in the top 15 in forcing turnovers in 2016 and 2015 until they slipped to 178th this year. On offense, they play an undersized four-guard lineup and sophomore MaCio Teague is shooting 44.5 from 3-pt land. UNC Asheville is projected to be a 16 seed when the tournament field is revealed so think again before you get carried away and pick the Bulldogs to pull an upset in 2 weeks.
This has been a tight conference race all year with only 2 of the 10 teams have losing conference records and the top 4 all have double digits wins in the Big South. In fact, Radford and Winthrop had to wait until Sunday morning to find out who would get the #2 seed and who would get the #3 seed as they both had 12-6 records. After going through several tiebreaker scenarios it came down to the higher RPI and Radford was awarded the #2 seed.
The Play: UNC Asheville
I won’t have them as straight up but they will be in my moneyline parlay with Vermont, Loyola, Wager, FGCU, Louisiana, and Bucknell. You can read more about my moneyline parlay strategy here.
The Longshot worth a look: Charleston Southern
Don’t let the 9-9 Big South record fool you as the Buccaneers finished the season 7-2. Those 2 losses came at Gardner-Webb 63-61 and a home loss in OT versus UNC Asheville 85-80. During this 9 game stretch, they had road wins over Radford and Winthrop, the #2 and #3 seeds. After a 1-6 start, CSU switched to a full-court pressing style and less zone defense. This helped propel them to turning over league opponents 24.6% of the time.
So sure let’s sprinkle a little on this live underdog at 35-1. I would also include UNC Asheville in the moneyline parlay