South Carolina-Upstate at Kennesaw State (Atlantic Sun)
KSU Convocation Center - Kennesaw, GA
7:30 PM EST
Unless it's the absolute beginning of the season, we don't generally spotlight games involving winless teams (such as the visiting 0-4 Spartans) in the G!O!T!N!, but in a way this really is the beginning of the season. Conference play began two weeks ago when the Big South moved its UNC Asheville-Liberty game up to be part of the ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon, but today marks the opening game of the Atlantic Sun slate.
We here at the Mid-Majority definitely approve of early starts to conference season, for many leagues the only games that matter, because it's a break from guarantee games. Second-year D-I program USC Upstate has drawn an oh-fer because it's been collecting checks at places like Notre Dame, South Carolina and Georgia. So we don't really know anything about them yet, at least nothing we already knew. Like the fact that 7-2 German import Nick Schneiders has a future as a chef, because he makes good Spaldingburgers and Rock sandwiches. Despite the stiff competition, he's averaging 2.8 blocks per game.
Upstate is just beginning its journey into D-I, and this chapter of the Atlantic Sun's story is still about giving a leg up to former D-II schools. Kennesaw State is nearly done with its indoctrination and will be fully eligible for any and all national postseason consideration in 2009-10. The Owls are preparing well, playing teams at their own level and hosting their own tournament (the 100 Club Classic), and go into A-Sun play with a 4-2 record and the nation's 13th-best 3-point shooting percentage (43.1 percent). The national champions at the Division II level in 2004, this program does a lot of things right, and shocked the league by leading the standings for a short time in 2005-06. They also have, for our admission fee, the funniest head coach in America, Tony Ingle. Occasionally when I talk to coaches down south, we trade our favorite Ingle-isms. Still my favorite: "Someone asked me the other day if I had an iPod... I thought they were making fun of my face. I said I've got a lot of diseases, but that ain't one of 'em."
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