It will be the High Point Panthers taking on the South Carolina Gamecocks in the first round of the NIT. The Panthers, from the Big South Conference, are in their second NIT and their fourth postseason appearance overall as a Division 1 team. But who are these Panthers?
The Coach: Scott Cherry, a former South Carolina assistant, is in his seventh season leading the Panthers and has a 117-101 career record as the head coach. Cherry has led the Panthers to back-to-back Big South regular season titles and has won twenty or more games in those two years, including 23 wins last year - their most since moving to Division 1 in 1999.
Record: 21-10, 13-5 Big South. The Panthers are in the NIT by virtue of their Big South regular season co-championship with Winthrop; however, the Panthers were the top seed in their conference tournament (which they lost), while UNC Asheville won the league's auto bid thanks to their league title.
Who To Watch: The Panthers are led by their dynamic redshirt senior forward, John Brown. Brown averages 19.6 points per game and was named the league's player of the year. However, Brown's status is up in the air thanks to a foot injury suffered right before the Big South Tournament, meaning we'll likely miss moments like this:
With Brown out, as well as the health of second-leading scorer Adam Weary (12.4 ppg) in question, the Panthers are entering this matchup badly shorthanded. It was a big reason behind their loss to UNC Asheville in the Big South semifinals. Weary being healthy might be somewhat of a consolation, but the Brown injury stings big-time.
The Gamecocks and Panthers will square off in Columbia on Tuesday night at 7pm on ESPNU.