Big South Conference Tournament: Why VMI Can Punch a March Madness Ticket

Harley QuinnContributor IIIFebruary 26, 2011

VMI came from behind to defeat the Winthrop Eagles on Saturday night and secure the fourth-seed and a home tournament game.  

It's not a surprise to see VMI leading the nation in scoring with their all-out offense, but the main difference between this year and years past is their ability to play defense.

Freshmen acquisitions of Rodney Glasgow and D.J. Covington have proved to be the difference in the team's late season success. After starting their conference record at 5-8, VMI won five consecutive Big South games and finished with a conference record of 10-8.

D.J. Covington has proven to be one of the conference's best defenders in the paint, and Glasgow has stepped in as the team's point guard, a position that has been lacking over the past few years.

VMI would not be in the top half of the seeding if it wasn't for senior Austin Kenon who has caught fire in the past few weeks averaging over 20 points a game. They are one of the only teams in the conference to enter the Advance Auto Parts Big South Tournament on a winning streak.  

If they can continue their dominating defensive play, they will be well on their way towards their first Big South Championship.

VMI has been close to winning the tournament in past years but never actually won the big game. They appeared in the final game against Winthrop in 2007 and Radford in 2008, but came up short both times.

This year, it would appear that Coastal Carolina would have a guaranteed ticket to the NCAA Tournament, but due to the loss of their two best players to suspension and injury, they've opened the door to the other teams in the conference.  

Liberty—their closest competitor—has played poorly down the stretch and the only two teams that have played well at season's end have been UNC Asheville and VMI.

Look for these two teams to continue their success as we enter March Madness.