This is one of 3 Quarter Final games taking place in CIT action tonight. It features the Grand Canyon Antelopes against the Coast Carolina Chanticleers. Free NCAAB pick inside.
Grand Canyon vs. Coastal Carolina
Though these are 2 programs with whom you may have little familiarity, they are names you will begin to learn more about in coming seasons. In tonight’s matchup, I favor the home-standing Chants for the reasons outlined below.
The story of Grand Canyon, a Phoenix based school, is a compelling one. Thanks to the efforts of Phoenix area notaries, such as Jerry Colangelo, Grand Canyon is beginning to make a name for themselves. This year, they competed in the WAC for consecutive seasons, logging a record of 25-6 SU overall, including 11-3 SU in conference play. They are led by former Phoenix Suns’ star, Dan Majerle, and have a meteoric rise on the Division 1 scene. Though ineligible to compete in the NCAA Tourney or the WAC CCT for another 2 seasons, they remain eligible for other post-season events, such as this CIT, in which they competed last year. Much like last season, the Antelopes are led by Josh Braun at 17 PPG. Though the average of DeWayne Russell has dipped from 14 to 10 PPG this season, the returning duo has been aided by Grandy Glaze (a St. Louis transfer averaging 14/9). The Lopes have positives in rebound margin assist/TO ratio and TO margin, along with averaging 77 PPG on 46% shooting and 37% from the arc. Those numbers, however, were achieved against a relatively weak non-conference schedule and WAC competition.
Coastal Carolina is the emerging team from the Big South. You will hear more about them in the years to come, as they are transitioning next season to the Sun Belt Conference. They are coached by veteran mentor Cliff Ellis (Clemson/Auburn) and are a premier defensive team. The Chanticleers (the most feared barnyard rooster in the State of S. Carolina, much to the dismay of S. Carolina Gamecock fans), are a fierce defensive team allowing just 67 PPG, 40% from the field and 30% from the arc. CCU battled tooth and nail down the stretch with Asheville, High Point and Winthrop for Big South superiority. Many felt Coastal was playing the best ball of the four at the end of the season. In recent previous seasons, the CCT had been held at the shiny home of the Chants (the HTC Center). It gave a notable edge to Coastal in the event and propelled them to an NCAA appearance against Wisconsin last year. This year, mysteriously, the event was moved to Buies Creek, NC, the home of the Campbell Camels. Asheville emerged as the winner of the event, dropping CCU to this CIT appearance. Coastal is a well-balanced offensive team with 4 double digit scorers. Recently, their top scorer (Wilson) has joined lead guard (Wiggins) in leading the Chants to a pair of CIT victories on this floor vs. Mercer and New Hampshire in which they allowed those opponents to just 35%. Meanwhile, GCU was profiting from home games against the likes of S. Carolina St. and Jackson St., arguably the worst entries in the field.
For tonight’s action, Grand Canyon is asked to travel nearly 3,000 miles east to play on a tough home court, where the Chants have won 13 games this season. Combined with the superior defense, it is enough to get CCU a comfortable victory and propel them into the Semi Finals. I invite you to put the NCAA basketball odds in your favor and join me in my NCAA basketball pick on Coastal Carolina tonight.