March Madness is here! As some of the power 5 conference teams finish up their regular season, postseason play begins for some of the mid-majors. Today, a few of our writers will be giving their thoughts on the Big South Conference Tournament.
Who will win the Big South Conference Tournament?
Aram: #1 Radford (20-10, 15-3 in the Big South)
Two years in a row Radford has made the championship game. I don’t expect things to change this year. Carlik Jones hasn’t missed the Championship game since arriving to Radford in 2017 and I expect some big heroics from him again on their way to the Conference title game.
Pat: #2 Winthrop (21-10, 15-3 in the Big South)
I like the second seeded Eagles to take the Big South title. Winthrop is a balanced team who plays really strong defense and they’re battle tested. They played a difficult non conference schedule that included an upset win at St. Mary’s. That kind of experience will pay dividends in March, especially if they have to go on the road to face top seeded Radford in the title game.
Which team is a Dark Horse Candidate to take home the title?
Aram: #3 Gardner-Webb (15-15, 11-7 in the Big South)
Yes, I know that it isn’t all that bold to claim the defending champion as a dark horse, but they were 9-14 just a month ago. After winning 6 of 7 games to finish the season including a win at home against Winthrop and a big one on the road at Radford in the last game, they are one of the hottest teams in this conference. Jaheam Cornwall is playing some great ball as of late and should continue his hot shooting going into the conference tournament.
Pat: #6 UNC-Asheville (14-15, 8-10 in the Big South)
The Bulldogs have proven they can play with anyone in the league given that they upset top seeded Radford in late January. They’re a little streaky on offense, but average 76 points a game and when they got hot they’re very tough to slow down.
Who is one player that NBA teams should keep an eye on?
Aram: Nate Johnson, Junior G – Gardner-Webb
Since I know who Pat will mention here, I’m going to go with one of Gardner-Webb’s premier scorers, Nate Johnson. Johnson is shooting close to 42% from deep on the season and has greatly improved his game. He’s great at cutting off passing lanes and with a big Tournament, I could see him choosing to test the NBA Draft waters this season. He won’t declare, but he could do it to get some advice from teams.
Pat: Carlik Jones, Junior G – Radford
Carlik Jones has been incredible all season, and is a huge reason that Radford is the top seed and favorite in the tournament. Jones is averaging just under 20 points and 5.5 assists a game, and also leads the team in steals, FG%, 3PT %, and FT%. His efficiency has been truly remarkable and a strong March from Jones could put NBA teams on notice.