Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dancing with the Stars: UNC-Asheville Bulldogs

Conference: Big South

Record: 19-13, 11-7

Rankings: 141 (Kenpom), 157 (Sagarin), 170 (RPI)

Potential Seed: 15 or 16, possibly a play-in game

Best Players: G - JP Primm (14.4 ppg, 4.6 apg, 2.1 spg), G - Matt Dickey (15.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.3 apg), John Williams (8.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg)

Big Wins, Bad Losses: Asheville actually had a win over a high-major team this season, knocking off Auburn early in the season. They hung with both North Carolina and Georgetown early in the season, as well. The Bulldogs only notched four wins over top 200 teams, however: Western Carolina, VMI, and Coastal Carolina twice.

Tendencies: Asheville thrives on pushing the pace and forcing turnovers, as they have the tenth highest defensive turnover percentage in the country at 24.5%. Junior guards JP Primm and Matt Dickey orchestrate the offense on most occasions. Games involving the Bulldogs generally end up being pretty exciting, as UNCA is almost as bad at protecting the ball on the offensive end as they are at forcing turnovers defensively. Starting center and leading scorer DJ Cunningham has been in and out of the lineup all season and missed the last two games of the Big South Tournament with an ankle injury. He's the only player on the roster over 6'8", which could be a disastrous loss if the Bulldogs run into a team with a big front line -- they are already 322nd in the country in defensive rebounding percentage.

How They Got There: The Bulldogs got hot at the right time. They won their last three games of the regular season to earn the third seed in the Big South tournament. After taking out Charleston Southern in the opening round of the Big South Tournament, UNCA easily dispatched both High Point and Coastal Carolina, the latter of which was their second win in two weeks against the Chanticleers.

Outlook: The Bulldogs, in all likelihood, are going to be knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the round of 64. They'll need to get their front court healthy and luck into a match up with a team that has a smallish front line and a penchant for turning the ball over. If they get Notre Dame or BYU, picking an upset might deserve a closer look. If they have to play Ohio State or Kansas, it will be worth it to watch just in case The Masked Dunker takes flight.

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