Monday, January 11, 2010

And They Call it the Streak

As we enjoy the Big South Conference basketball race, let's pause for a moment to reflect on a few things, shall we?

First (as if you didn't know this by now), preseason polls are quite frequently pure guesswork. We all know it's just a means to start conversation about a given sport/league/level, etc. After all, no one would base postseason finishes on polls (cough-cough) when you could rely on competition to settle the matter (cough-cough), right?

So remember that it's all "best guess" stuff and look back on the Big South Men's Basketball Preseason Poll...

Radford was forecast at first place, which is not too far off, as RU is currently tied for second with only one loss--but then there's the group at two through five: UNC Asheville, Winthrop, Gardner-Webb, and VMI, listed in that order. Well, of that quartet, Winthrop has worked to a 3-3 mark, but the others have three wins COMBINED--each with just a single victory in Big South play thus far. To be fair, Asheville has been very close over and over again, but wins keep ending up just out of reach--they may yet have a run, but the hole is getting deeper.

Which brings us to the trio at six through eight: High Point, Liberty, and Coastal Carolina. HPU is 4-1, having freshly dispatched previously undefeated Radford, and appears to have the ability to remain in the race long-term. Liberty holds a winning mark at 3-2, potentially playing above this position, but up-and-down overall. And then there's Coastal.

Seriously--eighth? CCU has now won an astonishing 12 consecutive games, jumped out to a 6-0 Conference mark, taken sole possession of first place, and properly earned a ranking in the mid-majors poll. This guess was WAY off the mark. Heck, the Chanticleers should've finished higher in a SoCon poll--they're undefeated in that conference too (4-0)!

The advance poll finished out with Charleston Southern, who at 3-3 is outperforming that forecast for ninth, and Presbyterian College, who at 1-5 is seemingly living up (down?) to that last-place estimation...but look closer and you'll see a team that has been very competitive game-by-game, in a season that is otherwise a "lost year" given the multiple redshirts biding their time for a collective run in PC's first year of eligibility next season...we'll wait and see.

So I suppose it's acceptable to say that the Chants are exceeding expectations, yeah?

Now buckle up for this news: Radford plays at Coastal Carolina Thursday night (1/14, 7pm).

That's right, the expected leader (RU 4-1) goes against the surprise frontrunner (CCU 6-0) in a definite statement game at Kimbel Arena...and all on the Big South Network, of course!

The undercard on that exciting night of Big South hoops includes HPU at CSU, which is a game pitting the prowling Panthers (4-1 and trying to keep pace) against the scrappy Buccaneers (3-3 with an upcoming schedule that would allow them to shake things up if they can).

So there's a lot of basketball left, but don't look past this week's action too quickly--soak this in while you can, because Thursday night could be a lot of fun...but then again, that smacks of forecasting, and we all know how well predictions can work...

Speaking of fun and forecasts, here's the link for you to read the Big South's latest update on Rush the Court.

And that's SHOUT--out!

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