College Basketball Nation: UNC-Greensboro Spartans's Southern Conference preview

November, 1, 2012
Before we get to the Blue Ribbon team-by-team previews for the Southern Conference, read Robbi Pickeral's profile of young UNCG coach Wes Miller and Myron Medcalf's breakdown of Davidson's nonconference schedule. And here is Eamonn Brennan's quick wind sprint through the league:

Here are Blue Ribbon's in-depth previews of all 12 SoCon teams: Insider

Appalachian State
The Citadel Insider Free College of Charleston
Georgia Southern
UNC Greensboro
Western Carolina
Wofford's SoCon preview

October, 25, 2011
Before we get to the Blue Ribbon team-by-team previews for the Southern Conference, here is Eamonn Brennan's one-minute wind sprint through the league:

Blue Ribbon breakdowns of all 12 teams in the SoCon:

Appalachian State
The Citadel InsiderFree
Georgia Southern
Western Carolina

More Southern content:

Counting it down: Title field cut to 270

March, 4, 2011
There are a ton of national championship elimination games to come Friday night, but the Big Dance Deathwatch afternoon action has been so interesting -- five games decided by a total of 24 points -- that it deserves its own entry.

Start with this general theme: Sic transit gloria.

That’s Latin for, “All glory is fleeting.” It applies Friday to a trio of coaches and programs that were bounced out of March far short of what they’ve experienced recently.

Last year, Ben Jacobson’s Northern Iowa team won 30 games and took down overall No. 1 seed Kansas on its way to a Cinderella Sweet 16.

Three years ago, Davidson coach Bob McKillop had his Wildcats one shot away from making the Final Four.

Four years ago, Chris Lowery took Southern Illinois to the Sweet 16 in a 29-win season.

Friday, they were all sent home in agonizing fashion.

Lowery’s 18-loss Salukis actually overachieved against No. 1 Missouri Valley Conference seed Missouri State -- for 37 minutes. Then they spit the bit in rather horrific fashion and lost 60-57.

SIU coughed up a nine-point lead in that time, outscored 11-0 to the final horn. Their final five possessions featured two missed front-end free throws, two turnovers and a missed jump shot. That allowed Missouri State to win 58-56 on a Kyle Weems jumper with a second left.

And that sent SIU into the offseason with its third straight non-winning season. Fans who once were overjoyed that Lowery turned down looks at big-time jobs like Michigan now want the seventh-year coach fired.

Nobody is calling for McKillop’s well-coiffed head at Davidson. But it’s been a similarly humbling run for the Wildcats in the post-Stephen Curry Era.

Davidson has pushed its streak of consecutive winning seasons to 10, but barely. And the past two seasons have ended with losses in the Wildcats’ first SoCon tourney games. In this one, against 6-23 UNC Greensboro, Davidson made less than 20 percent of its shots until a desperate flurry in the final minutes.

But Davidson’s ghastly 71-64 loss is UNCG’s great triumph. A team that lost its first 15 games has somehow avoided being added to the 2011 extinction list for another day.

Northern Iowa at least lost to a peer in Creighton -- a team of nearly identical standing in the Missouri Valley this season. But that culminated a painful late-season slide for the Panthers, who lost seven of their last eight games. Ali Farokhmanesh is not walking through that door, UNI.

Neither is Rod Barnes, and apparently that’s a good thing at Georgia State. The school fired Barnes on Sunday and replaced him for the Colonial Athletic Association tournament with assistant Paul Graham. The Panthers (12-18) promptly halted a four-game losing streak by beating UNC-Wilmington 58-52.

Even what seemed to be the surest elimination of the day didn’t happen easily. Towson, a smooth 0-18 in the CAA, was in the game for the full 40 against Drexel (21-9) before losing 75-69. Then again, that was the one team in the league Towson apparently matched up with, losing its three meetings with the Dragons by a combined 15 points.

So we chopped deadwood from 275 to 270 the dramatic way Friday afternoon. The list of the dearly departed will grow longer -- and the survivors list will grow shorter -- Friday night.

The numbers you need to know

January, 14, 2011
An inside look at the numbers behind Thursday's top performances:

1. California freshman Allen Crabbe scored a career-high 30 points in an 88-81 overtime win against Washington State. It's the most points by a Pac-10 freshman this season. In fact, Crabbe became the first Pac-10 freshman to score 30 in a game since USC's O.J. Mayo went off for 37 against Arizona State on March 1, 2008. You have to go much deeper into the record books to find the last Cal freshman to score 30. That was Shareef Abdur-Rahim way back in the 1995-96 season. Crabbe's performance overshadowed Klay Thompson's 36 points, the most by a Cal opponent since ASU's Eddie House scored 61 in January 2000.

Most Points by a Pac-10 Freshman, Last 3 Seasons
30 -- Allen Crabbe, Cal (Thursday vs. Washington St.)
29 -- Maurice Jones, USC (2010 vs. Santa Clara)
28 -- Derrick Williams, Arizona (2009 vs. UNLV)
28 -- Klay Thompson, Washington St. (2009 vs. Arizona St.)
28 -- Garrett Sim, Oregon (2008 vs. Utah)

2. At 0-15, a road game against one of the conference favorites isn't the ideal spot for that first win. It seems even less likely when your backcourt goes 0-for-13 from the field. How about when your top three scorers combine for eight points? Despite all of these things, UNC-Greensboro beat Appalachian State 75-74. The Spartans climbed back from a 13-point halftime deficit to improve to 1-15, leaving Centenary as the lone winless team remaining. So how did it happen? Aaron Brackett exploded for 28 points and 15 rebounds, both easily career-highs. He entered the game averaging 5.5 ppg and 4.3 rpg, having never topped 14 points. Brackett also shot 14-for-20 from the field, tied for the highest field goal percentage this season among players attempting 20 shots.

3. Gonzaga topped Pepperdine 92-75 while shooting 62.5 percent from the field. That’s the program's best shooting performance in a conference game in three years. The biggest reason was Robert Sacre, who put up a career-high 24 points. Not only was the 7-footer a perfect 8-for-8 from the field, but he also hit all eight of his free throws. The last player to attempt at least eight field goals and eight free throws and not miss any of them was Chattanooga’s Alphonso Pugh in 2005 against Georgia Southern. It’s just the fifth such game in the last 10 years, with Carlos Boozer the biggest name on that list. Sacre wasn’t the only Gonzaga player on the mark. Elias Harris went 8-for-9 from the field, including 3-for-3 from long-distance.

4. Is any team dominating its conference more than Belmont? The Bruins beat intra-city rival Lipscomb 88-52 to improve to 7-0 in the Atlantic Sun. Belmont has won those seven games by an average margin of 28.1 points, the highest scoring differential during conference play this season (minimum two games). Can the Bruins possibly keep this up? The A-Sun plays the nation’s longest conference schedule at 20 games, which could hurt their chances. Over the past 15 seasons, only one team has had a differential of more than 22.0 ppg in conference play. That was the 1998-99 Duke team that ran the table in the ACC, outscoring opponents by an average of 24.3 points per game.

5. It took three overtimes, but Tennessee Tech prevailed against Tennessee-Martin 109-105 thanks in part to a great all-around performance from Zac Swansey. The former Georgia guard finished with a career-high 19 points, including a pivotal 3-pointer in the third overtime. For good measure, he added 11 assists, five rebounds and five steals in his 50 minutes of action. He's just the third player this season to put up a line of 15-10-5-5.