Big South Power Rankings: Conference Play Tips Off

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Conference play tipped off in the Big South this past week. Who are the teams that thrived and made their way ups the rankings and who dropped?

Conference play is finally here and we know a little more about the Big South after the first week of conference play.

1. Radford Highlanders (12-5, 2-0)
Last Week: 1

The Highlanders had a convincing first week of conference play taking down Liberty at home and then destroying High Point on the road in a nationally televised game. Javonte Green continues to be a force and is averaging 17.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in conference play through the first two games. Mike Jones' squad has a good chance at starting the Big South season 4-0 with two home games this week, but both games are against in-state rivals who have given the Highlanders trouble before.

Last Week: W 72-63 vs Liberty, W 81-72 at High Point
This Week: 1/15 vs VMI (8-7,1-1), 1/18 vs Longwood (5-12,0-2)

2. Winthrop Eagles (8-6, 2-0)
LW: 3

Winthrop got a scare in the Big South opener at Presbyterian, but pulled out a four point win over the Blue Hose. The Eagles then had their first conference game at home against Charleston Southern and Pat Kelsey's team throttle the South Division favorites 85-68. Keon Moore could be the Big South Player of the Week since he dropped 16 points on PC and followed that up with 23 points against the Bucs.

Last Week: W 71-67 at Presbyterian, W 85-68 vs Charleston Southern
This Week: 1/15 vs Gardner-Webb (7-10,0-2), 1/18 at Coastal Carolina (8-8,1-1)

3. UNC Asheville Bulldogs (8-8, 2-0)
LW: 6

What a roll the Bulldogs have been on since hosting their first home game on December 12! UNCA has won seven out of their last eight games including a key road win to open conference play at Gardner-Webb. Asheville followed up the "Battle of the Bulldogs" by blowing out Presbyterian on Saturday. Freshman Andrew Rowsey continues to be impressive and averaged 15 points in his first two conference games. Asheville now has the South Carolina two-step this week with trips to Coastal and Charleston Southern.

Last Week: W 81-77 at Gardner-Webb, W 84-70 vs Presbyterian
This Week: 1/15 at Coastal Carolina (8-8,1-1), 1/18 at Charleston Southern (7-8,1-1)

4. Charleston Southern Buccaneers (7-8, 1-1)
LW: 2

Barclay Radebaugh can't be happy with the Bucs performance on Saturday at Winthrop, but we're not jumping ship yet. The Bucs did get a convincing win over rival Coastal Carolina, but followed that up with a dud. Presbyterian visiting North Charleston on Wednesday might be the best remedy for Saah Nimley and Arlon Harper.

Last Week: W 70-58 vs Coastal Carolina, L 85-68 at Winthrop
This Week: 1/15 vs Presbyterian (4-13,0-2), 1/18 vs UNC Asheville (8-8,2-0)

5. Liberty Flames (7-10, 1-1)
LW: 8

Liberty challenged Radford and then got a big road win at VMI this week. J.R. Coronado seems to finally be developing into an offensive force and dropped 20 points and grabbed 13 boards versus the Keydets. Liberty now has a stretch of four games that could really propel their season as they host Campbell, High Point, Presbyterian and head to Longwood.

Last Week: L 72-63 at Radford, W 85-80 at VMI
This Week: 1/14 vs Campbell (8-9,1-1), 1/18 vs High Point (4-11,0-2)

6. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (8-8,1-1)
LW: 4

The Chants tripped up down at the Buc Dome, but did grab a convincing win at Gardner-Webb. Now Cliff Ellis' squad gets to return home to the HTC Center for two straight home games against very stiff competition from the South Division.

Last Week: L 70-58 at Charleston Southern, W 81-69 at Gardner-Webb
This Week: 1/15 vs UNC Asheville, 1/18 vs Winthrop

7. VMI Keydets (8-7,1-1)
LW: 7

Q.J. Peterson's 30 points vaulted VMI over Longwood in their opener, but then Duggar Baucom's Keydets tripped up against Liberty. Now VMI will have to hit the road and we'll find out how good this edition of the Keydets is when they visit two 2-0 Big South squads.

Last Week: W 95-72 vs Longwood, L 85-80 vs Liberty
This Week: 1/15 at Radford (12-5,2-0), 1/18 at Campbell (8-9,2-0)

8. Campbell Camels (8-9,2-0)
LW: 12

Yes, I know the Camels are 2-0 in the Big South, but I'm not buying what Kevin McGeehan is selling yet in Buies Creek. The Camels got wins over the two Big South squads struggling the most and their comeback win at Longwood was more about the Lancers imploding than the Camels storming back. Campbell has a little bit stiffer competition this week in two measuring stick games.

Last Week: W 74-71 vs High Point, W 75-67 at Longwood
This Week: 1/14 at Liberty (7-10,1-1), 1/18 vs VMI (8-7,1-1)

9. Gardner-Webb Bulldogs (7-10,0-2)
LW: 5

It's been a rough welcome to conference play for first year head coach Tim Craft at Gardner-Webb. The Bulldogs dropped both their first two games, despite both games being in Boiling Springs. It'll be an uphill battle to rebound with two road match ups this week on tap for the Bulldogs.

Last Week: L 81-77 vs UNC Ashveille, L 81-69 vs Coastal Carolina
This Week: 1/15 at Winthrop (8-6,2-0), 1/18 at Presbyterian (4-13,0-2)

10. High Point Panthers (4-11,0-2)
LW: 9

The Panthers continue to be in free-fall after losing Allan Chaney in November. Since his departure the Panthers have lost nine of their last ten games with their only win coming against non-Division I Lees-McRae.  After dropping their first two conference games, the Panthers will get another chance against a similarly struggling Longwood squad.

Last Week: L 74-71 at Campbell, L 81-72 vs Radford
This Week: 1/15 vs Longwood (5-12,0-2), 1/8 at Liberty (7-10,1-1)

11. Longwood Lancers (5-12,0-2)
LW: 10

Fouls were Longwood adversary at VMI and then the Lancers imploded against Campbell to grasp defeat out of the jaws of victory. The good news for Longwood is that Tristan Carey finally woke up with 26 points against the Camels and Lucas Woodhouse continues to drop dimes and is third in the country in assists. Starter Karl Ziegler is expected to sit out the first half of Wednesday's game at High Point due to conduct detrimental to the team, stemming from a late technical on Saturday.

Last Week: L 95-72 at VMI, L 75-67 vs Campbell
This Week: 1/15 at High Point (4-11,0-2), 1/18 at Radford (12-5,2-0)

12. Presbyterian Blue Hose (4-13,0-2)
LW: 11

The Blue Hose gave Winthrop a run for their money on opening night, but then struggled at UNC Asheville. Jordan Downing has grown into a real force and is now second in the conference with 19.3 points per game. PC will continue to search for their first conference win against Charleston Southern and Gardner-Webb this week.

Last Week: L 71-67 vs Winthrop, L 84-70 at UNC Asheville
This Week: 1/15 at Charleston Southern (7-8,1-1), 1/18 vs Gardner-Webb (7-10,0-2)

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