The second week of college hoops action is in the books and here is a look at the week that was and the week ahead for the Big South.
The Big South put two more wins against power conference teams in their pocket this past week when Winthrop and Gardner-Webb both took down Clemson. The Eagles did it on the road 77-74 behind 19 points from Keon Johnson and Gardner-Webb did it in the Virgin Islands in the first round of the Paradise Jam. The conference as a whole has really stepped up in these big games early this season.
The biggest bright spot for the 1-4 Presbyterian Blue Hose this season has been freshman DeSean Murray who averaged 13 points and 6 rebounds in his first two games of the season. The problem is he's only played two games. Murray missed all three of PC's games over the weekend for "undisclosed reasons". You have to wonder what's going on there and how it will effect the Hose long term.
Saturday was a HUGE opportunity for the Big South to really cement it's rising brand with eight games that should've been winnable on the docket. Instead the conference went 1-7 with the only win coming from Coastal Carolina against a non-Division I squad. The conference really had a collective whiff here to take down opponents from the Horizon League, Southern Conference, and others.
1. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (3-1, Last Week: 1): Coastal cruised to two wins over non-Division I competition but will have to step up this weekend at Battle 4 Atlantis where they'll take on some solid mid-majors in host Chattanooga, Louisiana Monroe, and Robert Morris.
2. Gardner-Webb Bulldogs (2-2, LW: 7): I've been impressed with Gardner-Webb and the inside-outside game they have with Tyler Strange and Jerome Hill. They have a big game with ODU on Monday and then head home for a non-D1.
3. Winthrop Eagles (2-1, LW: 4): Winthrop had a great win at Clemson but then whiffed at Savannah State. The Eagles lone game this week is a tough Monday match up with ETSU, who just beat UNCA.
4. UNC Asheville Bulldogs (2-2, LW: 3): Andrew Rowsey let it rip with 29 points and 19 field goal attempts but the Bulldogs lost an important early season shootout at ETSU. UNCA has tough match ups this week against Charlotte and South Carolina.
5. Charleston Southern Buccaneers (2-1, LW: 2): The Bucs lost an important home match up against Wright State and will now have to beat a new look Central Arkansas team this week. CSU will end the week at Florida State on Friday.
6. Radford Highlanders (2-2, LW: 6): Radford took care of business last week against Howard and a non-D1 and Ya Ya Anderson is finally back. The Highlanders will try to copy Longwood last year and beat TCU on the road before playing in the Corpus Christi Challenge against three mid-majors.
7. High Point Panthers (3-1, LW: 5): Yea, they won the Hawaii thing but High Point looked god awful Saturday at Richmond. John Brown was really hustling but the rest of the team looked lazy and Scott Cherry looked out-coached. A Friday match up at Clemson will be telling.
8. Liberty Flames (2-2, LW: 10): Liberty got a nice win against a depleted Delaware team and then competed with Virginia Tech and Miami (OH). The Flames have a little more chemistry than the teams we've seen in the past and they'll get to prove themselves this week in a talented Cancun Challenge field.
9. Longwood Lancers (2-3, LW: 8): Four games in five days may have been too much for the Lancers as they walked away with a lone win to UNC Greensboro and a virus brought down some of the players. It won't get easier this week as the Lancers head to George Washington and Iowa before finally returning home in December.
10. Campbell Camels (1-2, LW: 9): The Camels are anemic on offense without Reco McCarter and averaged under 50 points this week in losses to Davidson and Colgate. Campbell starts a three game road trip this week with a visit to Ohio State.
11. Presbyterian Blue Hose (1-4, LW: 11): PC didn't look any better this week in a tournament at Louisiana Tech. I guess the good news is they'll be 3-4 this time next week with two non-D1 teams on the schedule. Or at least they should be...
Player of the Week
Tyler Strange, Gardner-Webb: This was a battle between one of the smallest players in the conference, Strange, and one of the biggest Lotanna Nwobo, who averaged 15 points and 8.3 rebounds for Longwood this week. Strange looked as consistent as ever against Charleston, Clemson, and Seton Hall averaging 14.3 points, 7.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.7 steals. Hey may be the best pure point guard in the league at this point.
Freshman of the Week
Kem Ubaru, UNC Asheville: Ubaru had another impressive week averaging 14 points and 5 rebounds in two games. He had 17 points and 6 boards against East Tennessee State on Saturday. He's the early frontrunner for the conference Freshman of the Year honors thus far with Longwood's Ryan Badowski not far behind.
Lots of TV!
The conference should get a lot of exposure this week with a slew of TV games on the docket:
Gardner-Webb vs Old Dominion, 6 PM, CBS Sports Network
Campbell at #20 Ohio State, 7 PM, Big Ten Network
UNC Asheville at South Carolina, 8 PM, SEC Network
Charleston Southern at Florida State, 6 PM, ESPN3
High Point at Clemson, 7 PM, ESPN3
Longwood at Iowa, 2 PM, Big Ten Network+
Charlotte at UNC Asheville, 2 PM, ESPN3
Liberty, Coastal Carolina, and Radford will all compete in Tournaments this week. The Flames have a tough field in North Florida, Elon, and Morgan State. Radford gets North Carolina A&T, Mississippi Valley State, and a surging host in Texas A&M Corpus Christi. And we already touched on Coastal in Chattanooga.
Three Games to Watch:
East Tennessee State at Winthrop, Nov 24, 7 PM, Big South Network: Winthrop is looking to get the bad taste of losing at Savannah State out of their mouth, while ETSU wants to inflict some more pain on the Big South.
High Point at Clemson, Nov 28, 7 PM, ESPN3: Can a third Big South team take down the Tigers? What will we see from High Point after a lackluster showing at Richmond?
Charlotte at UNC Asheville, Nov 30, 2 PM, ESPN3: The Bulldogs get a nice little home match up against a Conference USA team. This is another opportunity for a solid win for the conference.