DAYTON, Ohio - The UNC Asheville men's basketball team arrived in Dayton on Monday as the Bulldogs began preparations for the their NCAA Opening Round Game with Arkansas-Little Rock Tuesday night starting at 6:40 p.m. at Dayton Arena. The game will be nationally televised by TRU-TV starting at 6:30 p.m. In addition, ESPN Radio (1310-AM) will provide broadcast of the game in the Asheville area with the pre-game show starting at 6 p.m.
The Bulldogs (19-13) won the Big South Conference championship on March 5 when Asheville stunned top-seeded Coastal Carolina, 60-47 on the Chanticleers home-court. This will be the first ever meeting between UALR (19-16) and the Bulldogs. The Trojans won four games in four days to capture the Sunbelt Tournament last week.
"We know Arkansas-Little Rock is a good basketball team," stated Bulldog coach Eddie Biedenbach. "They come from a solid conference in the Sunbelt. I'm very impressed with their backcourt. They played a tough schedule and looks like they're playing their best basketball at the right time. Obviously, we're going to have to play extremely well to have a chance to win and advance."
A win by the Bulldogs in the opening round game sends Asheville to the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Washington, D.C. on Thursday. The Dogs would take on top-seeded Pittsburgh at the Verizon Center at 3:10 p.m.
Asheville arrived in Dayton on Monday after taking a chartered flight from Asheville Regional Airport. The chartered flight impressed the Bulldogs.
"We felt presidential by taking a charter flight," commented Bulldog junior guard J.P. Primm. "It was a great experience. The guys on the team really enjoyed the flight."
The Bulldogs had a 40-minute practice at Dayton Arena at 5 p.m. They then returned to their team hotel and rested the rest of the game. Asheville is scheduled for a 20-minute shoot-around on Tuesday at 9:40 a.m.
BULLDOG NCAA TOURNAMENT NOTES
TRU-TV's broadcasters on Tuesday will be CBS's top crew as Jim Nantz will provide play-by-play along with Clark Kellogg providing color. Also former NBA star Steve Kerr will also be part of the broadcast team along with sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson.
UNC Asheville has won six straight games. The key to the streak has been the Bulldogs' defense. During the winning streak, Asheville has allowed opponents to average just 55.5 points per game and shoot 38 percent from the field.
The Bulldogs have had three players start and play in every game this season. Junior guards J.P. Primm and Matt Dickey plus forward Chris Stephenson have started in all 32 games this year.
Asheville has three players who have scored 1,000 career points. Senior forward John Williams and junior guards Matt Dickey and J.P. Primm have all reached the 1,000-point plateau in their career. Dickey has 1,687 points and is in 16th place on the Asheville career scoring list. Williams has 1,151 points, good for 20th place on the career list. Primm enters the NCAA Tournament with 1,129 points and that's good for 23rd place on Asheville all-time scoring list.
John Williams is Asheville's all-time leader in blocked shots with 252 swats. He set a Big South Conference championship game record with six blocks against Coastal Carolina. Williams is one of only three players in Big South history to score more than 1,000 points (1,151), collect more than 600 rebounds (679) and block more than 200 shots (252).
The Bulldogs are 1-1 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 1-0 in Opening Round games. Asheville knocked off Texas Southern, 92-84 in overtime in 2003 before falling to Final Four-bound Texas, 82-61 in the first round of the tournament. Asheville's win over Texas Southern was the first ever victory for a Big South Conference school in men's or women's basketball in NCAA Tournament play.
Asheville has been a model of success in the Big South Conference under Eddie Biedenbach. The Bulldogs have finished in the top four of the conference 11 times during his 15-year tenure as head man at Asheville. The Bulldogs have reached the semifinals of the tournament 11 times and the championship game five times. Asheville has been in at least the semifinals of the tournament for the past five years, no one else in the Big South can make that claim.
If the Bulldogs can win on Tuesday against Texas Southern, it will give Asheville 20 victories for only the second time in the last 25 seasons. The Bulldogs would take on the top seed Pittsburgh in the Southeast on Thursday at 3:10 p.m. in Washington, D.C. Bulldog head coach Eddie Biedenbach is a native of Pittsburgh.