Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Key Word is "Advance"

Today I'm writing from press row at the Winthrop Coliseum in Rock Hill, SC. If you haven't been here for a game, this arena is a really good building for basketball, and tonight it's got postseason play to enjoy--along with the other energized home venues for the Big South this evening: the Justice Center in Asheville, the Millis Center in High Point, and the Vines Center in Lynchburg (Liberty).

Yes, it's the 2008 Advance Auto Parts Big South Men's Basketball Championship...and I have to say the key word for these teams now is "Advance." That's the magic of this time of year, right? That these teams all have control now over how many more games the season holds: win tonight, play Thursday; win Thursday, play Saturday; win Saturday, play in the NCAA's Big Dance--and Winthrop showed everybody last year that a Big South team can advance there too (they beat Notre Dame in the opener but lost in the 2nd round). Easy? No. Thrilling? You bet.

So I'm here representing the Conference, along with Mark Simpson from our staff, while the other tourney openers have their own reps from the Big South Conference office. Even though the events are staged at home sites, we make an effort to standardize some of the experience so that the postseason atmosphere is preserved for everybody.

Adding to the drama, a maelstrom outside: rain hard enough to hear inside the arena, wind almost blowing people over trying to get here, and word fresh from Winthrop Director of Athletics Tom Hickman that the area is now under a tornado watch. Lovely.

Well, at least all the preparations so far have kept things pleasant INSIDE, where the players will create the stories and glories on the floor. Tip-off is less than two hours, and then the fun begins! Tourney Time!

You can watch the action on The Big South EDGE, with all the quarterfinals streamed live, plus post-game press conferences. The match-ups: 7-Radford at 2-Winthrop, 6-Coastal Carolina at 3-High Point (with Big South Player of the Year, Arizona Reid, pictured here), 8-Charleston Southern at 1-UNC Asheville, and 5-VMI at 4-Liberty.

The men's semifinals will be on ESPNU and the final on ESPN2 Saturday morning (11:30am). While TV has those games, The EDGE will still have the post-game interviews, so watch for those.

Enjoy the games...more to come soon from Big South SHOUT!

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