Conference play is right around the corner, and in the Big South everything prior to conference play can be made a distant memory. How will the Flames fare in January in conference play?
January 8th: ROAD against Radford (10-4)
Mike Jones and his Radford Highlanders are off to their best start this century. Radford has been the best and most consistent Big South team in the nonconference portion of the schedule. The Highlanders are led by forward Javonte Greene who is averaging 17.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Radford is 6-0 at home this season. This may be the Flames’ toughest conference game of the season.
January 11th: ROAD against VMI (6-6)
Freshman QJ Peterson has hit the ground running this season for VMI. The 6’0″ guard is averaging 19.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. He has a season high of 38 against Bridgewater on November 20th. Seniors D.J. Covington and Rodney Glasgow provide the leadership Duggar Baucom’s squad needs. The Keydets are 6-0 at home this season, their final year in the Big South before moving to the SoCon. If Liberty can steal 1 game in their opening road trip, FlamesNation should be thrilled.
January 14th: HOME against Campbell (6-8)
The Camels have been up and down all season, but mainly down. They lost to Chowan at home, but have wins over Appalachian State and Georgia Southern (twice) as well as some solid performances against the likes of NC State and East Carolina. If the Flames want to contend for a North Division championship, this is a must win.
January 18th: HOME against High Point (3-9)
Preseason North Division favorite High Point is reeling. The Panthers have lost 7 consecutive games by an average of 22 points per contest. They lost to 6-7 Wofford by 28 in their last outing. High Point has yet to find their identity since Allan Chaney was lost for the season due to his recurring health issues. Coming into the season, this game looked like a tough, home conference game. Now, it’s a must win.
January 22nd: ROAD against Longwood (5-9)
The Flames have never won in Willett Hall, so despite Longwood being one of the worst teams in the conference and all of Division I basketball, this game will not be easy. The Lancers have always had an inferiority complex when it comes to Liberty, so they always circle the name LIBERTY when they see it on their schedule. First year head coach Jayson Gee leads this year’s edition of the Lancers who are 1-9 against Division I opponents. Their only Division I win came all the way back on November 12th when they miraculously defeated TCU 82-79.
January 25th: HOME against Presbyterian (4-10)
The Blue Hose are likely the worst team in the Big South. They are ranked #351 in the RPI, and are 2-10 against Division I opponents this season. Jordan Downing leads Presbyterian with 19.4 points per game. Another must win for the Flames if they want to contend for a North Division championship.
January 29th: ROAD against Coastal Carolina (6-7)
The Flames conclude the month of January in South Carolina against the Beach Chickens. Cliff Ellis’ squad has shown some promise in the nonconference portion of the schedule, but have 2 head scratching losses to South Carolina State who is 0-8 against Division I opponents not named Coastal Carolina. This will be Liberty’s first trip back to where their magical run last March took place.
7 games into conference play where do you think the Flames will be?