Friday, March 19, 2010

Ouch...Reality Bites Big South

Fun while it lasted?
Not even sure of that.

Friday morning, sitting on 0-4 in postseason hoops, with one underdog hope remaining.

To recap:
Tuesday night--Winthrop had its shot in the NCAA Opening Round game, facing Arkansas-Pine Bluff (SWAC Champ) in Dayton. And while we can cling to the novelty of Winthrop scoring the first points of the 2010 Tourney (a basket from Andy Buechert), the Eagles faltered on the national stage, struggling with shooting woes all night and losing 61-44. UAPB's reward, of course, is a date with Duke today, but the Golden Lions have earned the right to keep dancing.

Within minutes of that ending, the Big South's Regular Season Champion met the same fate as its Tournament Champion--a double-digit loss. For Coastal Carolina, it was a trip to Birmingham for the NIT First Round and a meeting with UAB. The bigger Blazers controlled the game and held off the Chants for a 65-49 victory.

Just like that, the men's basketball postseason had ended.

On to Thursday night, when perhaps the women would fare better for the Big South...but no, the script was repeated--two games, two losses. Gardner-Webb made the short trip to Charlotte to face the 49ers in the First Round of the WNIT, but seemed to lack the intensity needed to take one on the road. Charlotte led the game wire-to-wire, and by wide margins most of the way. In the end, it was UNCC 74, GWU 60.

At the same time, Charleston Southern wound up in the surprise position of hosting a First Round game of the inaugural edition of the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI). Appalachian State had the better seed but had to make the trip to CSU for this one. ASU dominated the scoreboard in the first half, opening nearly a 20-point lead, but the Bucs would not give up the ship, making for perhaps the most exciting game of this postseason quartet. CSU fired off a comeback and climbed almost even with the Mountaineers, but then App-State regained its footing and pulled away for a 62-47 win.

Tale of the tape--four teams in four different tournaments, no advances.
Humbling and disappointing losses of 17, 16, 14, and 15 points...

And then there was one.

Yes, folks, there were five postseason hoops squads for the Big South Conference, but four have fallen. That leaves us with a vested interest in one team yet to play: the Liberty Flames women's team, Big South Championship tourney winner and rep for the NCAA's. The Flames open with Kentucky Saturday afternoon, and while UK's women don't have the same expectations as those riding on the men's team from Lexington right now, these Wildcats will have the favorite position understandable for a quality SEC team. By seeding, the match-up is a 4v13 tilt, so a win would certainly qualify as an upset.

Only I don't think anybody around here would be too upset about it...

Well, we'll see. Hey--look on the bright side: we've got Conference play in baseball and softball now, so I guess it's time to turn the seasons anyway (if you haven't already).

Make it a great weekend everybody----SHOUT--out!

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