In 2012 we get an extra day in February, but March Madness couldn’t wait. The Big South Tournament has tipped off and the upset bug has bit them in a big way.
In the first game, 2nd seeded Coastal Carolina, one of the 2 teams to beat top-seeded UNC-Asheville in conference, faced off against 7th seeded VMI. Coastal swept VMI, including a 17-point win on the road just 5 days ago. So what happened today? VMI pulls the upset of course, not just the upset but a 17-point drubbing of the Chanticleers. The Keydets had 4 players in double figures led by Keith Gabriel who poured in 20 in the victory. Coastal pulled within a point with 17 minutes to play at 43-42. VMI then proceeded to go on a 25-10 run to push the lead to 68-52 over the next nine minutes. VMI now faces the winner of the second quarterfinal between #3 Campbell and #6 Winthrop.
The second quarterfinal pitted the third-seeded Campbell Camels and the 6th seed Winthrop Eagles. Like the first game, the higher-seeded Camels had swept the Eagles in the regular season, and just like the first game third time was not a charm for the favorite.
Reggie Middleton netted 25 points to lead the Eagles in a game that Winthrop controlled from the moment the ball was jumped. Campbell make the first basket of the game and it was the only time the Camels had the upper hand. Winthrop led 34-26 with under a minute to play in the first half and Campbell would get no closer in the second stanza.
So now either the 8-10 Winthrop Eagles or the 8-10 VMI Keydets will have the opportunity to play for a bid to the NCAA Tournament, it seems as though the waters have parted for top seed UNC-Asheville to take the crown and the conference’s automatic bid. If the first two quarterfinals are any indication, UNCA best stay on task.
Here is the remaining schedule for the Big South Tournament:
Quarterfinals February 29
6:00PM – #8 High Point vs. #1 UNC Asheville
8:00PM – #4 Charleston Southern vs. #5 Liberty
Semifinals March 1st
6:00PM – #7 VMI vs. #6 Winthrop – ESPNU
8:00PM – Game 5 Winner vs. Game 6 Winner – ESPNU
Finals (At highest remaining seed) March 3rd
12:00PM – Game 7 Winner vs. Game 8 Winner – ESPN2