CSU the preseason pick to win the Big South

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - For the first time in school history, Charleston Southern is the preseason men's basketball favorite in the Big South Conference, the conference office announced Tuesday afternoon at Big South Basketball Media Day.

The Buccaneers are picked to win the Big South's South Division after receiving 157 points and 29 first-place votes in the preseason poll. Coastal Carolina is picked second in the South Division and received 147 points and eight first-place votes. Defending Big South champion UNC Asheville (130 points) was selected third, followed by Winthrop (67 points), Gardner-Webb (58 points), and Presbyterian (50 points).

CSU returns four starters from a 19-12 squad in 2011-2012, led by a pair of All-Big South Preseason selections in sophomore guards Saah Nimley and Arlon Harper. Head Coach Barclay Radebaugh begins his eighth season as CSU head coach after being selected as the Big South Coach of the Year last season.

"We are honored to be picked first in the South Division in this year's preseason poll, Radebaugh said on Tuesday. "While we feel good about our team, we are very aware that this year's Big South Conference race is wide open. There are six or seven teams that could be picked as the preseason favorites. Also, there will be a team that is picked lower that will surprise us all with a great year. Last year we were picked eighth and finished third."

With a record 12 members, including newly added Longwood University, the Big South will have divisional play for the first time in Conference history. Campbell is the preseason in the North Division.

The Camels received 21-of-29 first-place votes and 166 out of a possible 174 points to capture its division. The Bucs play Campbell on Feb. 9 at the Buc Dome.

VMI finished second in North Division voting with 136 votes and five first-place votes. High Point was picked third, followed by Liberty (98 points), Radford (57 points), and Longwood (49 points).

Charleston Southern opens its 2012-2013 season on Nov. 9 against Charlotte. The Bucs follow with a trip to Tucson, Az. to face the University of Arizona on Nov. 11.

The season culminates with the 2013 Big South Conference Basketball Championships the week of March 5-10 at The HTC Center on the Coastal Carolina University campus. The combined, one-site format features all 23 teams and 21 games in six days. Both championship games are on Sunday, March 10.