Saturday, March 1, 2008

In Like a Lion...

March has arrived, and whether you believe it's Madness, Mayhem, or Mirth, it is a month with a wild frenzy of action--especially in the Big South. Once again, I spent the day at the New Balance Track & Field Championships, witnessing tremendous athletes giving all-out efforts and claiming titles (plus the medals that go along with them). While I was doing that at Clemson, along with Nic and Chad from the Big South staff, the sports action was also in full swing elsewhere--baseball, softball, and of course some very important basketball.

With home court spots to be settled, and the top seven seeds all in flux, the March 1 games for men's basketball would determine the postseason fates of the whole Conference... amazing!

So how did the Big South "Decision Saturday" turn out?

High Point beat VMI at its own high-scoring pace and on the Keydets' floor on Senior Day, which locked in a home quarterfinal for the Panthers and put VMI in a bad position for seeding, waiting on other games. Next on the docket, the battle for the regular season title--and UNC Asheville completed its season sweep over Winthrop to guarantee the top spot and lock the semifinals into Asheville, NC. The Eagles still get a home game for the first round, but not the second. Third up for the day, Liberty and Radford tangled--and the Flames answered the challenge with a win, putting them in the driver's seat for the valuable fourth position. Not to be outdone, the day concluded with a dramatic finish in the South Carolina Lowcountry, where the CSU Bucs upset the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers with a one-point win. With those results, the top four seeds--and therefore the teams at home for Tuesday's quarterfinals--are Asheville, Winthrop, High Point, and Liberty. Get ready for a great tournament!

So what about the track and field events, you say? Glad you asked.

Liberty, already winners of five out of six Big South Championships awarded this academic/athletic year, took the title for the men...and came in second for the women, behind the champions from Coastal Carolina. Among the impressive performances, Josh McDougal of Liberty demonstrated his dominance at distance events yet again--including one automatic NCAA qualifying time for the Flames senior, who has already claimed a National Championship in cross country this year. Even with all his success, Josh has remained remarkably humble and he generously donated his bib numbers from the NCAA Championship (as seen in his picture seen in Sports Illustrated and in the graphic here) for the Big South Hall of Fame at the Conference Office in Charlotte. Thanks, Josh--and congratulations again!

So catch your breath, we still have more ahead of us...March definitely roared in like a lion, but I'm not sure it's going to go out like a lamb--not with this many games on the calendar (enjoy)!

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