Campbell opens play in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) Wednesday when the Camels host Mid-American Conference member Miami (Ohio) in a 7 p.m. tip-off at Gore Arena in Buies Creek.
Under the direction of fifth-year coach Kevin McGeehan, the Camels (16-15, 10-8 Big South Conference) earned their highest finish (fourth) in the Big South standings in six years and posted their best conference victory total since the 2012 squad finished 11-7.
Campbell has earned back-to-back postseason bids for the first time in its Division I era (since 1977-78). CU reached the third round of the CollegeInsiders.com Tournament (CIT) last year.
The Camels are led by first-team all-conference pick Chris Clemons. The nation’s fourth-leading scorer (24.5), Clemons enters Wednesday’s game just seven points away from setting a new school all-time scoring record. A junior from Raleigh, Clemons has tallied 2,147 points in 94 career games, just six shy of Jonathan Rodriguez, who had 2,153 in his career from 2006-10.
Honorable mention all-league guard Marcus Burk is 12th in the league in scoring (14.8) and second in 3-point field goal percentage (.401).
Miami (16-17, 8-10) finished seventh in the Mid-American Conference under first-year coach Jack Owens. Guard Nike Sibande is Miami’s leading scorer at 14.7 points per game and was named MAC Freshman of the Year. Junior guard Darrian Ringo averages 9.8 points per game and ranks seventh in the nation with 229 total assists (6.9 per game) and fifth in the country with 89 total steals (2.70 per game).
The CBI is a single-elimination tournament up until the best-of-three finals, with all games played at campus sites. The quarterfinal round will take place on Monday, March 19, followed by the semifinal round on Wednesday, March 21.
Prior to the semifinals, the remaining teams will be re-bracketed. The Finals series is a best-of-three in which one team will host two of the three games. Those games will be played on March 26, March 28, and March 30.
Past CBI champions include Tulsa, Oregon State, VCU, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Santa Clara, Siena, Loyola Chicago, Nevada, and Wyoming.
Last time out
Campbell — Myo Baxter-Bell came off the bench to lead five Liberty players in double figures with 14 points and the Flames defeated Campbell 73-59 on Mar. 1 in the Big South Championship quarterfinal at Asheville, N.C. Fifth-seeded Liberty shot 55 percent from the floor, built a double-digit lead and never let the Camels get closer than eight down the stretch. The nation’s fourth-leading scorer, Chris Clemons (24.6) led Campbell with 23 points and six rebounds, but was hounded into 7-of-22 shooting from the field. Andrew Eudy added 10 points for the Camels, who shot just 36 percent from the floor. In sweeping two regular season games from Liberty, Campbell made 38-of-60 (.633) 3-point shots, but at Asheville CU hit only 8-of-24 (.333).
Miami (Ohio) – The seventh-seeded RedHawks nearly battled back from a 12-point deficit late in the second half, but fell to second seed Toledo 71-69 in the Mid-American Conference Quarterfinals at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Freshman guard Nike Sibande scored 13 of his team-high 20 points in the second half, but his contested three on the final possession missed wide. Junior guard Darrian Ringo was a perfect 4-for-4 from three-point range and finished with 19 points. Miami made only 8-of-15 free throws and shot 39 percent from the field.
· Wednesday’s game marks only the fourth time that Campbell has faced a member of the Mid-American Conference. CU dropped decisions to Northern Illinois (neutral) in 1983-84 and at Ball State in 1990-91 before falling to Bowling Green 78-72 last Nov. 25 in Buies Creek.
· Miami stands 2nd in the MAC in both scoring defense (69.9) and steals per game (7.6).
· The RedHawks are 4-0 all-time against current members of the Big South Conference – 3-0 vs. Liberty and 1-0 vs. Longwood.
· Campbell was the lone Big South school to face a Mid-American team in 2017-18, falling 78-72 to Bowling Green in the Creek Classic. Clemons missed that game due to injury but Shane Whitfield scored 28 on 9-of-15 shooting (plus 10-of-11 free throws) vs. the Falcons.
· Miami is making its first postseason appearance since 2011 and is competing in the CBI for the third time in the 11-year history of the event. Previously, the RedHawks dropped opening round CBI games to Tulsa (61-45) in 2008 and Rhode Island (76-59) in 2011.
· The RedHawk roster included just five returning players from 2017 and eight newcomers.
· Miami first-year head coach Jack Owens spent the previous nine seasons on Matt Painter’s staff at Purdue, the last six as associate head coach.
· Campbell stands 12-4 at Gore Arena this year and has won seven of its last eight at home. Miami is 6-11 on the road this season.
· Making its second-straight postseason appearance, Campbell is participating in the CBI for the first time. Campbell defeated Houston Baptist and UT-Martin last year before falling to Furman in the CIT quarterfinals.
· Notable Miami alumni include Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the United States, and current Speaker of the U.S. House Paul Ryan.
· Miami athletics notable alumni include former NBA standouts Ron Harper (5-time NBA champion) and Wally Szczerbiak, Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, and notable coaches Paul Brown (founder/coach of Cleveland Browns & Cincinnati Bengals), Bo Schembechler, Walter Alston (4 World Series titles with Brooklyn and LA Dodgers), Red Blaik and Ara Parseghian.
The winner of Wednesday’s game will meet the winner of the UT-Rio Grande Valley at New Orleans contest in the quarterfinal round.
2018 College Basketball Invitational
Tuesday, March 13
Utah Valley 87, Eastern Washington 65
Wednesday, March 14
Colgate at San Francisco
Miami (Ohio) at Campbell (7 p.m.)
UTRGV at New Orleans
North Texas at South Dakota
Mercer at Grand Canyon
Central Arkansas at Seattle
Jacksonville State at Canisius
(Campbell media services provided the basis for this report)