2014 Big South Tournament Preview: Home court advantage in March is fun!

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There may not be a more wide-open conference tournament this season than the Big South. High Point won the North Division with the best record in conference play at 12-4, but they also needed to win 10 of their last 11 games to do so and are playing without one of their star forwards in Allen Chaney. The next six teams in the standings all finished within two games of first place.

What’s that mean?

Winthrop, who was tied for second in the South Division, will essentially be the No. 7 seed while UNC Asheville, who was also tied for second in the division, will get a first round bye.

In other words, good luck with your predictions. If you are going to make one, think about this: the tournament will be played on the home floor of Coastal Carolina, as the HTC Center is the best venue in the league and just so happens to be located near Myrtle Beach.

(MORE: Browse through all of our conference tournament previews)

The Bracket

When: March 5, 7-9

Where: The HTC Center, Conway, SC

Final: March 9th, 12:00 p.m. ESPN2

Favorite: High Point

High Point won the Big South’s North Division and finished with the best record in league play. They also just so happened to have the best player in the conference on their roster in John Brown, a 6-foot-7, freak-of-nature athlete that averaged 19.6 points, 7.9 boards and 1.7 blocks. Losing Allen Chaney hurts, but the Panthers regrouped without him, winning 10 of their final 11 games after starting out Big South play 0-2 and 2-3.

And if they lose?: VMI

If you like scoring, you’ll like watching VMI, who averages the second-most possessions of any team in the country, according to KenPom. Q.J. Peterson is one of the best low-major freshmen in the country — he’s averaging 19.6 points, 5.5 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.7 steals as a 6-foot-0 guard — and D.J. Covington has the size inside to matchup with any big man in the league.

Sleepers:

  • Coastal Carolina: The Chanticleers have far and away the best defense in Big South, according to KenPom, and used that to win the South Division. More importantly, the tournament will be held on their home floor.
  • UNC-Asheville: The Bulldogs run almost as much as VMI and also feature the league’s most dominant interior presence, particularly defensively, in D.J. Cunningham.

Studs:

  • John Brown, High Point: Enough said. Right?
  • Andrew Rousey, UNC Asheville: If Q.J. Peterson isn’t the best freshman in the conference, Rousey is. The 5-foot-10 guard averages 19.9 points and shoots 39.4% from three.
  • Javonte Green, Radford: Green is one of the best pound-for-pound forwards in the league, checking in at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds and averaging 17.0 points and 8.2 boards.

CBT Prediction: UNC Asheville over Coastal Carolina

Report: North Carolina won’t attend White House

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After capturing a national championship earlier this year, the North Carolina men’s basketball team will not be visiting the White House, a North Carolina spokesman said to Andrew Carter of the The Charlotte Observer.

Although the Tar Heels were invited to go to the White House from the staff of President Donald Trump, the team couldn’t figure out a date that worked.

“We couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties,” North Carolina team spokesman Steve Kirschner said to Carter. “We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn’t work out that date, we couldn’t work out that date, so – we would have liked to have gone, but not going.”

According to Carter’s report, Kirschner also said that North Carolina players, “were fine with going.”

With Trump’s recent comments towards NFL players and the national anthem and his Saturday morning tweet at Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the President with regards to athletes over the past 24 hours.

Although the timing of this may seem like North Carolina is making some sort of political statement, the school is downplaying any sort of politics by focusing on the bad timing.

Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer

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Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer from the program to move closer to home, according to a release from the school.

The 6-foot-7 Ridder hails from Springfield, Missouri as he was regarded as a top-150 prospect by Rivals in the Class of 2017.

“After much consideration and talking with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to move home,” Ridder said in the release.

“Jared has indicated to the coaching staff that he has a desire to be closer to home,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “While we are disappointed, we all want Jared to be happy moving forward. We wish him nothing but the best.”

A potent scorer and noted perimeter shooter at the high school level, Ridder helped MoKan win the Nike Peach Jam during the summer of 2016 playing alongside talented players like Missouri’s Michael and Jontay Porter and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. With a desire to move closer to home, could Ridder potentially land at a spot where one of his talented former teammates is playing?

Ridder averaged 24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season of high school ball at Kickapoo as he was a first-team, All-State selection in Missouri.

Four-star 2018 forward Ian Steere decommits from Creighton

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Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.

The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.

According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.

John Wall emotional in Kentucky Hall of Fame induction speech

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John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.

The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.

Ohio State snags third 2018 commitment in a week with four-star guard Luther Muhammad

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Ohio State continued a strong week on the recruiting trail on Friday night by landing a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Luther Muhammad.

Regarded as a four-star prospect, the 6-foot-4 Muhammad is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who can attack the basket. Also showing some ability to play on the ball as a secondary handler, Muhammad is a very solid addition to Ohio State’s recruiting class since they need to overhaul their roster under new head coach Chris Holtmann.

Muhammad is the third player to commit to the Buckeyes in the Class of 2018 this week as he joins four-star forward Jaedon LeDee and three-star guard Duane Washington in the current Ohio State recruiting class. Since Washington is a three-point threat and Muhammad is more of an off-the-bounce specialist, the two guards are a good start for Ohio State in this class as they will likely try to find a true floor leader to play with them on the perimeter.