Championship Week: Patriot League, Big South, Ohio Valley, West Coast Conference Tournaments Highlight Day 2


Matt Dickey (right) and UNC-Asheville ran through the Big South en route to a 16-2 record and a No. 1 seed. (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

By: Kels Dayton

March Madness is here. You probably just don’t realize it yet.

The Madness starts slow, and develops over time. It begins with a trip to the gym, a little H-O-R-S-E….then all of a sudden you’re knee deep in pizza boxes, slung out on the couch with a 30 of Miller Lite and a sea of nerf basketballs surrounding you in a daze of euphoric basketball bliss.

(Wait…that’s not just me, is it?)

Nevertheless, Championship Week is finally here, and we are just 12–TWELVE–days until Selection Sunday. I can smell the beer-stained pizza now.

Day two of Championship Week is highlighted by the Big South quarterfinals, which feature No. 1 seed UNC-Asheville, which went 22-5 this season and carried the flag for the rest of the league with a 16-2 mark in conference play. Asheville is led by 6-1 senior guard Matt Dickey, who averaged 16.9 points and 3.6 assists per game this season and could very well win the conference’s Player of the Year award.

Dickey was so impressive in last year’s NCAA Tournament that TNT’s Charles Barkley lauded his play, and wondered aloud how “a player like him could get out of the state of Alabama.” (Barkley’s Auburn Tigers could use him.) It would be a huge upset if Asheville didn’t at least reach the championship game, which would be played in their gym.

Also on tap are the early rounds of the Patriot League, Ohio Valley, and West Coast Conferences.


BIG SOUTH TOURNAMENT BRACKET–Updated 2/29, 10:06 p.m. est.



 (7)  Virginia Military 85, (2)  Coastal Carolina 68

Associated Press


Keith Gabriel led the Keydets to a huge upset win over Coastal Carolina. (Photo:

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Keith Gabriel scored 14 of his game-high 20 points in the first half as Virginia Military Institute advanced to the Big South Conference tournament semifinals by defeating Coastal Carolina 85-68 Wednesday.

The seventh-seeded Keydets (16-15), who had lost eight straight to the No. 2-seeded Chanticleers (19-11), scored nine consecutive points, seven by Gabriel, for an early 9-2 lead and never trailed again.

VMI, which shot 27.8 percent in an 81-64 loss to Coastal on Saturday, improved to 57.1 percent (28 of 49), including 14 of 28 on 3-pointers. Jordan Weethee, who had 15 points, made 5 of 6 3-pointers.

Coastal cut a 43-37 halftime deficit to 45-44 with 14:54 remaining before VMI scored the next 10 points.

Sam McLaurin led the Chanticleers with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Kierre Greenwood had 11 points and eight assists.

The Keydets will play Thursday night against the winner between Campbell and Winthrop.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


(1 )  UNC-Asheville 86,  (8)   High Point 61

Associated Press

Top-Seeded Asheville Rolls Past High Point

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Chris Stephenson scored 18 points to lead five UNC Asheville players in double figures as the top-seeded Bulldogs eased into the Big South Conference tournament semifinals by defeating High Point 86-61 Wednesday night.

UNC Asheville (22-9) closed the first half with a 13-2 run to lead 34-25, then pulled away in the second half, holding the No. 8-seeded Panthers (13-18) without a field goal for 7:45 in one stretch.

High Point’s Nick Barbour, who was averaging 20.8 points per game, made just 2 of 17 shots and had seven points. Barbour scored 33 the last time the teams met, an 86-79 UNC Asheville win on Jan. 14.

Jeremy Atkinson scored 16 points with eight rebounds for the Bulldogs, J.P. Primmhad 15 points and six assists, Jaron Lane scored 13 and Big South Player of the Year Matt Dickey scored 11.

Shay Shine led High Point with 22 points.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


(6)  Winthrop 71, (3)  Campbell 65

History Repeats Itself as Winthrop Advances Past Campbell

Associated Press

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Reggie Middleton scored 25 points, including five 3-pointers, as Winthrop defeated Campbell 71-55 Wednesday in the Big South Conference tournament quarterfinals.

The sixth-seeded Eagles (12-19), who have won nine of the last 13 Big South tournament titles, will face No. 7 Virginia Military Institute in the semifinals Thursday night.

Two 3-pointers by Middleton and a jumper by George Valentine — all assisted byJoab Jerome — gave Winthrop a 28-19 lead after the third-seeded Camels (17-15) had scored six straight points.

Campbell never got closer than seven points after that and trailed by double digits all but 1:10 of the second half.

Andre Jones scored 14 points for Winthrop, which lost five of its final regular-season games, including the last three. Jerome finished with nine assists and eight points for the Eagles.

Darren White scored 15 points to pace Campbell, which won both of its regular-season games against Winthrop.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


(4)  Charleston Southern 88, (5)  Liberty 74     Final

Associated Press

Charleston Southern advances to Big South semis with win over Liberty

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Saah Nimley scored 19 points and Charleston Southern took a huge early lead, then fought to hold off Liberty 88-74 Wednesday night in the Big South Conference tournament quarterfinals.


Kelvin Martin and Arlon Harper added 18 apiece for the fourth-seeded Buccaneers (19-11), who led by as many as 18 in the first half and will play No. 1 seed UNC Asheville in Thursday’s semifinals.

The fifth-seeded Flames (14-18) got within two points on six occasions, including 58-56 with 9:03 left after trailing by 10.

With the score 63-61, Charleston Southern rattled off 10 straight points, six byJeremy Sexton, to pull away.

The Buccaneers, who have won five of their last six, shot 50 percent (31 of 62) and made 10 of 22 3-pointers.

David Minaya scored 17 points for Liberty, which was riding a five-game Big South winning streak, starting with a 75-74 win at Charleston Southern Feb. 9.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press





(5)  Lafayette 84, (4)  Holy Cross 76

Associated Press

WORCESTER, Mass. — Rob Delaney scored 25 points as Lafayette defeated Holy Cross 84-76 Wednesday night in the Patriot League quarterfinals.

The fifth-seeded Leopards (13-17) eliminated the No. 4-seeded Crusaders (15-14) from the tournament for the third consecutive season. They will face No. 1 seed Bucknell in the semifinals Saturday.

Delaney scored 16 points in the first half, when Lafayette shot 64 percent (16 of 25) for a 43-38 halftime lead. He was 5 for 5 on 3-pointers in the game, the last putting the Leopards ahead 74-64 with 4:31 remaining.

Holy Cross trimmed the lead to 76-73 with 41 seconds left before Lafayette wrapped it up with eight free throws.

Jim Mower added 18 points for Lafayette and Ryan Willen had 12 points and six assists.

RJ Evans had 18 points, Devin Brown 17 and Dave Dudzinski 16 for Holy Cross.

The teams split two regular-season meetings, each winning on the road.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
(2)  Lehigh 70, (7)  Colgate 57

Associated Press

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Mackey McKnight had 16 points to pace four double-figure scorers as Lehigh beat Colgate 70-57 in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League tournament on Wednesday night.

C.J. McCollum added 15 points, Jordan Hamilton 13 and B.J. Bailey 10 for the Mountain Hawks (24-7). Lehigh now moves on to play American University, which beat Army in another quarterfinal game, at home in the semifinals on Saturday.

The Mountain Hawks led most of the way, taking a 33-26 advantage at intermission and outscoring the Raiders 37-31 to seal it in the second half.

The Raiders outshot the Mountain Hawks 41.3 percent (19 of 46) to 38.1 percent (24 of 63) from the floor and outrebounded them 39-32, but Colgate also committed 22 turnovers. Lehigh, which tallied 13 steals in the contest, gave it away just nine times.

Sterling Melville scored 21 points to pace Colgate (8-22).

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Takin’ Shots
By: Kels Dayton
  • The Bulls have used Pittsburgh's model to become the toughest team in a rugged Big East. (Keith Srakocic/AP)

    Can we just all agree that South Florida belongs in the NCAA Tournament? The Bulls (19-11, 12-5) defeated Louisville on the road on Wednesday, 58-51 behind another staunch defensive performance and 16 points off the bench from guard Jawanza Poland. The Bulls have won six of seven and are eighth in the nation in points allowed, giving up just 57.4 points per game and allowing opponents to shoot a paltry 40 percent from the floor. South Florida is the new Pittsburgh, winning with tough, hard-nosed defense and not many star players. Senior forward Augustus Gilchrist  leads the team in scoring, averaging just 10 points per game. No one else on the team even averages in double figures. Still, with 12 conference wins in the best league in America, South Florida has done more than enough to earn an NCAA bid.

  • Jeremy Lin became just the second player this season to score 19 points, dish out 13 assists and turn the ball over only once in the Knicks’ 120-103 win over the Cavs Wednesday night. The other? Derrick Rose. Yeah, Lin’s for real. The Knicks keep winning–they’ve won 10 of 13 since LIN-sanity began on February 4. This type of run can happen in baseball, like when Shane Spencer briefly morphed into Reggie Jackson for the Yankees in 1999, but it doesn’t happen in the NBA unless you’re legit. Like it or not, Jeremy Lin ain’t going away. And that’s a great thing for the Knicks, who are a much better team now that the kid from Harvard is running the show.
  • Northwestern lost the biggest game in school history on Wednesday, falling 75-73 to No. 11 Ohio State after Jared Sullinger hit a game-winning bucket with less than 5 seconds to play. The Wildcats (17-12, 7-10) appeared to be on the verge of their first-ever NCAA Tournament bid if they could beat the Buckeyes at home, but will now need a miracle in the Big Ten tournament to crack the Dance. But hey Chicago, at least you’ve got the Cubs…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *