Chants climb to 18th in RPI

Coming off its second big victory of the season, the Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team has climbed to No. 18 in the latest RPI rankings, according to CBSSports.com.

After defeating Clemson and LSU last week, the Chanticleers improved to 5-0 and gained some significant ground in the RPI formula, which the NCAA Tournament Committee uses as a factor in selecting the field of 68.

Not to get too far ahead of ourselves; there are a lot of big games to be played between November and March, including Florida International on the road Saturday, not to mention key interconference contests with East Carolina and College of Charleston in the coming weeks.

But two of the biggest battles have been won. Although the biggest key to Coastal’s season is winning the Big South Conference Tournament, beating teams from the ACC and SEC provide a great Plan B if the Chants should fall short of the Big South tourney title and its automatic bid.

That’s been critical for Coastal, which hasn’t won the Big South tourney since 1993. The only way a Big South team makes the Big Dance without winning the tournament is to win big games out of conference. Coastal won at LSU last year and beat C of C, but didn’t have the strength of schedule to warrant an at-large bid.

But now with a heck of a start in the RPI and two wins over major conference foes in their pocket, the Chants can make a strong case for an invitation if they continue to win but stumble in the conference tourney. The trip to the Big Dance in March could be the result of big wins in November.

Of course, they have to take it one game at a time, and the chemistry they develop over the next few months will be the true test of becoming an NCAA tournament team. But the Chants are off to a nice start and it might not be too early to ask for a few days off in mid-March, maybe even for a road trip to Greensboro to see CCU upset the top-seeded Tar Heels.

OK, now we are officially getting too far ahead ourselves.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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