The 2011 Big South Conference men's basketball tournament starts today without a clear-cut favorite but plenty of storylines.
Eight teams begin play at 7 tonight at the sites of the top four seeds.
We start with top-seeded Coastal Carolina (26-4) hosting No. 8 Gardner-Webb (11-20). Coastal's recent troubles have been well-documented. Mike Holmes was booted off the team, Willie Kirkland is academically ineligible and Kierre Greenwood is out with a torn ACL.
The Desmond Holloway story is still out there. Coastal's leading scorer is ineligible while the NCAA continues its investigation into the school's recruitment of the guard.
CCU coach Cliff Ellis said he could not comment on that situation on Monday. He did say that his team has handled all of the changes pretty well.
"We made a good statement on Saturday to show that our team is ready for the tournament," Ellis said, referring to the Chants' 81-77 win at Charleston Southern.
Coastal had its 22-game winning streak snapped by Gardner-Webb on Feb. 15 in Conway and eked out a 58-55 win at Gardner-Webb with Holloway providing key baskets late in the contest.
No. 2 Liberty limps into the tournament with four straight losses. They will host No. 7 High Point.
Flames coach Dale Layer was named Coach of the Year and point guard Jesse Sanders was tabbed Player of the Year.
UNC Asheville is the No. 3 seed and will entertain Charleston Southern. Asheville might be considered a favorite in lieu of Coastal's depleted roster and Liberty's losing streak.
"I don't think so," Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach said. "But I like our chances. This tournament is wide open. I think everyone has a chance."