Among the many beautiful things about March Madness is the notion that any team can make it. Every conference gets one automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament. Most automatic bids are awarded to the winner of each respective conference tournament. Each article will preview a different conference tournament with a full bracket breakdown.
8 High Point def. 9 USC Upstate
10 Presbyterian def. 7 Hampton
1 Winthrop def. 8 High Point
4 UNC Asheville def. 5 Longwood
2 Radford def. 10 Presbyterian
3 Campbell def. 6 Gardner-Webb
1 Winthrop def. 4 UNC Asheville
3 Campbell def. 2 Radford
1 Winthrop def. 3 Campbell
This is an example of a conference where the top team is a class above the rest. Should Winthrop win the conference tournament, they are on track to get a 13 seed or better in March Madness. The reigning Big South champion went 20-1 with ten wins by 10+ points. Their only blemish was a surprise 57-55 loss to UNC Asheville. Eagles starting guard Chandler Vaudrin was named Big South Player of the Year after averaging 12/7/6 for the top team in the conference. The only weakness Winthrop has, if any, is their mediocre free throw shooting. Unless teams can hang around with one of the fastest tempos in the country, Winthrop should coast to an NCAA Tournament berth.
The Fighting Camels are entering the Big South Tournament on a hot streak. They have won their last seven consecutive games even with a short COVID-related break in the middle. The top teams in the conference have had trouble with Campbell this season. Even though the Camels went 0-4 against Winthrop and Radford, they hung tough with a one-point loss to Winthrop and a triple overtime defeat at the hands of Radford. If they can survive their first matchup with an underseeded Gardner-Webb, they can give Radford fits in a conference semifinal.
Matchup to Watch
Radford vs Campbell
Just as Campbell has the best field goal percentage of any Big South team, Radford has the lowest field goal percentage allowed. Just as the Camels boast a strong offensive unit, the Highlanders allow the fewest points per game of Big South teams. Within this classic offense vs defense matchup, there are two key stats that can decide the game. First, Campbell is the most accurate three-point shooting team in the conference and the best three-point shooting defense. Radford, on the other hand, is poor both offensively and defensively when it comes to three-point shooting. Second, the Camels have the best turnover margin in the conference whereas the Highlanders are one of the more accident-prone teams. Radford swept the season series, but if these teams meet in the bracket, it could be the best game of the tournament.
Featured Image courtesy of winthropeagles.com
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