The College of Charleston is plodding along with a 7-8 record in the Southern Conference, and today's 6 p.m. game at John Kresse Arena with Western Carolina may not seem so important in the grand scheme of things. (Photo of Andrew Goudelock and Tony White Jr dancing courtesy of Alan Hawes w/ the Post & Courier)
But it is to Cougars' coach Bobby Cremins, who would like his team to play well enough down the stretch to earn a first-round bye in the Southern Conference Tournament.
"The most important thing for us is we're still fighting for a bye, so every game is crucial," Cremins said. "We're still in this thing. We have a shot."
The top five teams in the 11-team Southern Conference earn first-round byes in the tournament, to be held March 7-10 at North Charleston Coliseum.
Davidson (16-0) has already clinched the No. 1 seed, and Appalachian State (11-5), Georgia Southern (11-5) and Chattanooga (10-6) are likely to occupy the next three spots, leaving one more bye up for grabs.
In addition to Charleston, the main contenders for the fifth seed are Elon (8-9), Wofford (7-9) and UNC Greensboro (7-7).
After today, the Cougars have road games at Elon and UNC Greensboro before finishing the regular season at home against Georgia Southern and Furman.
The Cougars are 1-3 against those four teams this season, so Charleston would do well to take care of business today against Western Carolina (7-17, 3-11 SoCon).
The Catamounts are winless on the road this season, and have lost nine consecutive games to Charleston.
However, Western Carolina gave the Cougars all they could handle earlier this season when Charleston escaped with an 86-84 victory at Cullowhee, N.C., on Dec. 1.
"Western is a very dangerous team," Cremins said. "We can't take them lightly, for sure. We've just got to come out here Saturday night and play some basketball."
--Cougars' small forward Antwaine Wiggins, who suffered an ankle sprain in Charleston's victory over Chattanooga Thursday night, is listed as probable. Cremins said the Cougars will move guard Marcus Hammond into Wiggins' spot if Wiggins is unable to go.
Reach Charles Bennett at email@example.com.