Big South tournament preview

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Dates: March 1, 3, 5
Site: Quarters at top four seeds, semis at Coastal Carolina, Finals at highest remaining seed

Outlook: Two weeks ago, Coastal Carolina was a lock to win the Big South tournament. It was riding a 22-game win streak, hadn’t lost a conference game and was even in the mix for an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament.

Now? The Chanticleers (26-4, 16-2) are still the favorites to cut down the nets in Conway, but there’s doubt. Their leading scorer is suspended and their starting point guard is out because of an injury.

So. Who’s that leave?

Second-place Liberty (19-12, 13-5) has lost four straight.  I’m ruling them out. Same with reigning champ Winthrop. Instead, look for UNC Asheville (16-13, 11-7) or VMI (17-12, 10-8) to provide the challenges. In fact, if VMI meets Coastal in the semis, the winner could hit triple-digits. That’s must-see TV.

Championship game: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2

Player to watch: Austin Kenon, VMI
The 5-11 senior averages 18.3 points a game in the Keydets’ up-tempo offense, but does it effieciently (1.23 PPP) and isn’t even the guy who hoists the most shots on the team.

Champion: Coastal Carolina.
Yeah, I know. What about all that buildup and the injuries? Bottom line, the Chanticleers host the tournament. That’ll be the difference.

Complete tournament bracket

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