Michael Enanga

NCAA Tournament Primer: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

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Get to know all of the NCAA Tournament’s automatic bids here.

Conference: Big South

Coach: Cliff Ellis

Record: 21-12 (11-5 Big South)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 242
– RPI: 216
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding?: In Dave Ommen’s most recent bracket High Point was projected as the automatic qualifier from the Big South, and was slotted as a likely No. 16 seed playing in the First Four.

Names you need to know: Josh Cameron (14.0 pp, 2.5 apg), Elijah Wilson (16.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg), and Warren Gillis (14.6 ppg, 3.0 apg)

Stats you need to know: Coastal Carolina had the most efficient defense in the Big South Conference according to kenpom.com as evident by the Chanticleers holding the Eagles to 31 percent shooting in the championship game. Another interesting note is that head coach Cliff Harris had taken his fourth different program to the NCAA tournament become one of 10 coaches to do so. He previously took South Alabama, Clemson and Auburn to the Big Dance. This is Coastal’s first trip since 1993.

Tendencies: The Chanticleers go as their back court does. The guard play of Cameron, Wilson and Gillis have accounted for more than 60 percent of Coastal Carolina’s points this season. The trio scored 50 combined points on Sunday afternoon.

Big wins, bad losses: Held the high-powered VMI to 62 points in the conference semifinals, almost 25 points below the Keydets’ season average. Lost to Ole Miss and Minnesota — in consecutive games — by a combined 12 points. Got crushed by 29 to Ellis’ former team Clemson on Nov. 29.

How’d they get here?: Coastal earned one of the top two seeds in the Big South Tournament, earning a bye into the quarterfinals. It’s first two tournament games — Charleston Southern and VMI — were decided by nine points. In the title game over Winthrop, which had upset the other top seed High Point in the quarterfinals, the Chanticleers ran away with a 15-point win in the second half.

Outlook: Could very well play in the First Four in Dayton. If that’s the case I like the Chanticleers chances of advancing to the field of 64 to play one of the four top seeds.

How do I know you?: Coastal Carolina gets after it defensively, allowing 68.8 points per game and limiting the opposition to a little over 40 percent from the field.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.