The Big South Conference is a Division I collegiate athletic conference that sponsors a men’s basketball tournament and a women’s basketball tournament. The conference is made up of 11 schools located primarily in the southeastern United States.
The Big South men’s basketball tournament typically takes place in early March and features the top eight teams in the conference. The tournament is a single-elimination format, with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Big South women’s basketball tournament also features the top eight teams in the conference and takes place around the same time as the men’s tournament. The women’s tournament is also a single-elimination format, with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The location of the Big South basketball tournaments varies from year to year, with the higher-seeded teams hosting the earlier rounds and the semifinals and championship games typically taking place at a neutral site. In the past, the tournaments have been held in cities such as Asheville, North Carolina, and Radford, Virginia.
The most successful men’s basketball program in Big South tournament history is Winthrop, which has won 12 tournament championships. On the women’s side, Liberty has won the most tournament championships with 17.
Looking back at the recent history of the Big South Conference, one notable underdog story was the UNC Asheville Bulldogs in the 2011-2012 season.
UNC Asheville was the fifth seed in the tournament and faced tough competition from higher-ranked teams, including Coastal Carolina and top-seeded Charleston Southern. Despite being the underdog in each game, the Bulldogs won three straight games to win the Big South tournament championship and earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
In the NCAA Tournament, UNC Asheville faced top-seeded Syracuse in the first round and gave them a tough game, ultimately falling 72-65. Nonetheless, their run to the Big South championship as a lower seed was a memorable underdog story in the conference’s history.
While the Big South Conference has not produced many NBA players, there have been some notable players who played in the Big South college basketball tournament:
Chris Clemons: Clemons played college basketball for the Campbell Fighting Camels in the Big South Conference from 2016-2019. He was a three-time Big South Player of the Year and the conference’s all-time leading scorer. Clemons went undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft but has played for the Houston Rockets and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the NBA G League.
Craig Bradshaw: Bradshaw played college basketball for the Belmont Bruins in the Atlantic Sun Conference, which was a member of the Big South Conference from 2002-2012. Bradshaw was a two-time Atlantic Sun Player of the Year and helped lead Belmont to two conference tournament championships. He went on to play professionally in Europe after college.
Jerome Robinson: Robinson played college basketball for the Boston College Eagles in the ACC but before that, he played for the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in the Big South Conference from 2015-2016. Robinson was a two-time All-Big South selection and was drafted 13th overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Saah Nimley: Nimley played college basketball for the Charleston Southern Buccaneers in the Big South Conference from 2012-2015. He was a two-time All-Big South selection and the conference’s all-time leader in steals. Nimley went undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft but has played professionally overseas.
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