Asheville and Coastal Carolina. That’s for all the (NIT) marbles, folks.
As of right now, the Bulldogs are two games ahead of the Chanticleers. That will change by the time the two teams meet a week from Tuesday, as Coastal plays Campbell, High Point, and Winthrop this week. Barring any unforeseen upsets (a big disclaimer, I know), Coastal should be one game behind Asheville (at most) when the two teams meet on Valentine’s Day (how sweet!) next week.
Right now, Asheville has four conference games left: Radford, Coastal, Gardner Webb, and Winthrop. Of those four, only one has an RPI within 100 points of Asheville. You guessed it: it’s coastal. This isn’t to say that Asheville should under-prepare for the other games, but it just restates the importance of the February 14th matchup. A lot of things can happen between now and March. But right now, the regular season title (and home-court advantage, thanks to the Southern Conference) is Asheville’s to lose. Given the performance of this year’s team, that is a very comforting thought.