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Big South Power Rankings: The Final Week

It's the final week of Big South regular season play and the tournament picture could not be more clear. There are plenty of huge games in what should be a fun week in Virginia and the Carolinas.

Rich Barnes

1. High Point Panthers (14-13,10-4)
Last Week: 2

High Point was one of two teams with a trio of games in front of them this week and the Panthers pulled off the sweep beating Charleston Southern, Liberty, and Longwood in a six day span. I've been highly critical of Scott Cherry from the beginning but he has to be the leader for Big South Coach of the Year going into the last week of the season and John Brown is in the drivers seat for Player of the Year. If the Panthers win either of their games this week then they'll clinch a first round bye in the conference tournament but their big game is Wednesday when they seek revenge on VMI and look to take the North Division's number one seed.

Last Week: W 76-70 vs Charleston Southern, W 67-60 vs Liberty, W 85-59 at Longwood
This Week: 2/26 vs VMI, 3/1 vs Campbell

2. UNC Asheville Bulldogs (15-13,9-5)
LW: 7

After plummeting last week due to two straight losses the Bulldogs pulled off two big wins this week against Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina. Three teams in the South Division are tied at 9-5 and battling for the top two seeds, while Winthrop isn't far behind at 8-4. Asheville plays Winthrop and one of those teams at 9-5 this week in Gardner-Webb. If the Bulldogs want a day off at the beach then they'll need to take care of business this week.

Last Week: W 82-71 vs Charleston Southern, W 100-85 vs Coastal Carolina
This Week: 2/26 at Winthrop, 3/1 vs Gardner-Webb

3. VMI Keydets (17-10,10-4)
LW: 3

The Keydets locked up a first round bye for the final Big South Tournament by sweeping Radford on Saturday. The Keydets will have to hit the road this week for both of their games but the second game against Longwood will be irrelevant if Duggar Baucom's squad wins at High Point on Wednesday. It's certainly hard to win four games in a short span playing VMI's squad so the bye may be more important for them than anyone else.

Last Week: W 84-81 vs Campbell, W 88-76 vs Radford
This Week: 2/26 at High Point, 3/1 at Longwood

4. Gardner-Webb Bulldogs (16-13,9-5)
LW: 5

Gardner-Webb is tied with Coastal Carolina and UNC Asheville at 9-5 in the South Division, but currently the Bulldogs find themselves on the outside looking in in terms of a first round bye. If the Bulldogs can get past Charleston Southern on Wednesday then they'll be set up for a huge game against Asheville. Gardner-Webb may have the biggest disadvantage of the three teams though because they were swept by Coastal Carolina earlier this year.

Last Week: W 79-70 vs Presbyterian, W 85-79 vs Winthrop
This Week: 2/26 at Charleston Southern, 3/1 at UNC Asheville

5. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (16-12,9-5)
LW: 1

Coastal had the greatest opportunity this week with games against Winthrop and UNC Asheville and the Chants fell flat. Cliff Ellis' team would be int he drivers seat if they just would have won one of those games and now they find themselves and a four team dogfight for the the first round byes in the South Division. The good news is that Coastal likely has the easiest week out of anyone in that fight for the South Division.

Last Week: L 75-64 at Winthrop, L 100-85 at UNC Asheville
This Week: 2/26 vs Presbyterian, 3/1 vs Charleston Southern

6. Radford Highlanders (18-11,8-6)
LW: 4

Mike Jones' Highlanders have missed two golden opportunities the past two Saturdays in match ups against VMI and High Point. Instead of taking advantage in the North Division the Highlanders will need to win two games this week and hope for a sequence of events to happen in games they have no effect on to grab a first round bye. It looks like at this point that Radford is heading towards a first round match up with Presbyterian in Myrtle Beach.

Last Week: W 86-75 at Longwood, L 88-76 at VMI
This Week: 2/26 vs Campbell, 3/1 at Liberty

7. Winthrop Eagles (15-12,8-6)
LW: 6

The Eagles and Pat Kelsey have to be kicking themselves today after losing to Gardner-Webb. Winthrop now is one game back of that trio leading the South Division and they'll now need to take care of business this week and hope for some help elsewhere to get a bye in Myrtle Beach. The Eagles still have plenty to play for and a HUGE Wednesday game against Asheville on their slate.

Last Week: W 75-65 vs Winthrop, L 85-79 at Gardner-Webb
This Week: 2/26 vs UNC Asheville, 3/1 vs Presbyterian

8. Charleston Southern Buccaneers (12-15,6-8)
LW: 8

The Bucs had a brutal week with three games and were able to come away with one win. While the Bucs seeding for the Big South Tournament is pretty much solidified as the fifth seed in the South Division, the Bucs will be one of the most important teams this week. Barclay Radebaugh would love to play spoiler and build some momentum going into Myrtle Beach.

Last Week: L 76-70 at High Point, L 82-71 at UNC Asheville, W 86-47 at Presbyterian
This Week: 2/26 vs Gardner-Webb, 3/1 at Coastal Carolina

9. Liberty Flames (10-19, 4-10)
LW: 12

Need to stop a losing streak? Head to Buies Creek. The Flames finally ended their seven game losing streak with a 20 point win over Campbell on Saturday. Dale Layer mixed up his starting lineup this week inserting JUCO transfer Joe Retic in as a ball-handler. The move seemed to make a difference and the Flames can lock up the fifth seed in the North Division on Tuesday if they can beat Longwood.

Last Week: L 67-60 at High Point, W 79-59 at Campbell
This Week: 2/26 vs Longwood, 3/1 vs Radford

10. Longwood Lancers (8-21,3-11)
LW: 10

Longwood took Radford to the limit on Wednesday but then followed up on Saturday with a dud of a game against High Point.  The biggest news of the week though was Tristan Carey's monster dunk against Radford's Brandon Holcomb. Carey alone gives the Lancers a chance to play spoiler in Myrtle Beach but for now the Lancers need to focus on Tuesday's game against Liberty where they can be put in the drivers seat for the fifth seed in the North.

Last Week: L 86-75 vs Radford, L 85-59 vs High Point
This Week: 2/25 at Liberty, 3/1 vs VMI

11. Campbell Camels (12-17,6-8)
LW: 9

I don't think any team is limping down the homestretch more than Kevin McGeehan's Camels. Campbell has lost six out of their last seven games with their only win coming against Presbyterian at home. The Camels did show some fight at VMI but got embarrassed on their homecourt for the second Saturday in a row. D.J. Mason returned to the team on Wednesday and played in his first conference game of the year. Perhaps his presence can give the Camels a shot in the arm.

Last Week: L 84-81 at VMI, L 79-59 vs Liberty
This Week: 2/26 at Radford, 3/1 at High Point

12. Presbyterian Blue Hose (6-23,2-12)
LW: 11

The Blue Hose will once again be the sixth seed in the South Division after losing to Charleston Southern and Gardner-Webb this week. PC is most likely headed to a first round match up against Radford, a team they lost to 83-63 earlier this year. The Blue Hose still has two tough road games this week and are looking for any shred of momentum.

Last Week: L 79-70 at Gardner-Webb, L 86-47 vs Charleston Southern
This Week: 2/26 at Coastal Carolina, 3/1 at Winthrop