Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 2/12/12

It’s too early to tell if this is a team of destiny, but I can tell you this is a team that does not quit. Hasn’t all year. And now, with a 14-1 Big South Conference record, the UNC Asheville Bulldogs have accomplished one of their goals – they are the regular-season champs.

Matt Dickey's 22 points paced the Bulldogs in their big win Saturday evening over Radford

Led by senior Matt Dickey’s 22 points, Asheville pulled away from a weak Radford team Saturday evening at Kimmel Arena, scoring an 88-62 win.

The Bulldogs (19-7, 14-1 BSC) earned their fifth BSC regular-season title with the win and first since the 2007-08 season. Asheville will be the top seed in the Big South Conference Tournament and host the quarterfinals and semifinals at Kimmel Arena and would host the championship game if the Bulldogs are still in the title game.

They are also assured of being in a post-season tournament with the regular-season title. Asheville will be in either the NCAA Tournament or the National Invitational Tourney if the Bulldogs don’t win the league tournament title. The Big South Tournament will begin on Feb. 27 with two play-in games at campus sites before the tournament moves to Kimmel Arena for the quarterfinals on Feb. 29.

“Wrapping up the regular season and the top seed so we can play at home is huge for us,” said Dickey. “We’ve stayed consistent and focused for most of the season, and we needed to do that today against a team that we know has struggled this year.”

“We have a lot to be thankful for. A brand-new arena, a good team with great players that play well together, and now we win the regular season,” said Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach. “We’re delighted to win the regular-season title. That’s the first step of some other goals we hope to achieve this season,” added Biedenbach. “I thought our guys were really focused from start to finish. We did a great job on the boards, and we’re going to need that as we get into tournament action.”

The Bulldogs have won six in a row this season and 20 of their last 21 games against BSC opponents, a streak that began late last season.

The BSC regular-season championship is Asheville’s fifth in 16 seasons under Biedenbach, its first since 2008 and the team goes on the road Tuesday night, playing at second-place Coastal Carolina (17-8, 10-5). The Chanticleers have lost three straight BSC games.

A win at Coastal would make the Bulldogs the third BSC team to go 9-0 in conference road games in a season. Asheville needs two victories in its last three conference games to tie the record for most league wins in a season (16), set by Coastal last season. Another new goal for the Dogs to aim for.

Following the Coastal game, the Dogs travel to Athens, OH, to play the Ohio Bobcats in a BracketBusters game on Saturday.

The most important goal, however, is winning the Big South Conference tournament. In a one-bid league like the Big South, several regular-season champs have failed to advance to the NCAA tournament because they did not win the league tournament. Coastal, last season, and Asheville, in 2007, come to mind. Let’s hope the home-court advantage that the Bulldogs have earned serves them well this season. In my opinion, it will.

This is a senior-dominated team that is ready to take the next step. Odds are that whatever team wins the Big South Tournament, they will be playing in Dayton in a “First Four” game (as the Bulldogs did last year). But that’s because the league’s overall strength is not good…and the tournament decides which teams play in Dayton for the honor of being a 16 seed. It would be very interesting to see what Asheville would do as a 15 or even a 14 seed…something that might have happened had they hung on and beaten Tennessee and beaten College of Charleston and had not lost at home to Charleston Southern (their only BSC loss).

A victory at Coastal and one in Ohio would certainly help their case, especially if they finish winning-out.

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