In the second installment of our 20ish-part series, Get to Know an Auto-Bid, we examine the Winthrop Eagles.
Winthrop clinched their 10th NCAA Tournament appearance Sunday with a 76-59 win over Campbell in the Big South Championship Game.
Winthrop tallied a 26-6 regular season record and finished with a 15-3 conference mark. All three of Winthrop’s conference losses came by three points or less and two of their defeats came in overtime.
The Eagles were fortunate to face the Camels in the championship game. The No. 7-seeded Campbell upset No. 2 UNC-Asheville in the quarterfinals and paved an easy path. Winthrop also benefitted from winning the regular season title and earning the right to host the tournament.
The Eagles survived their own upset scare in the semifinals as they defeated No. 4 seed Gardner-Webb 80-77 in overtime.
Winthrop’s best win of the season came against Illinois on the road. The Eagles were also competitive in losses to Florida State and Dayton.
This is Winthrop’s first tournament appearance since 2010 and all ten of their NCAA appearances have come since 1999. The Eagles last won a tournament game 2007, a game ND fans know too well as the Eagles downed the Irish in the first round.
Keon Johnson leads the Eagles with scoring with 22.4 points per game, while Xavier Cooks is second on the team in scoring with 16.4 ppg. Cooks leads the Eagles on the glass with nine rebounds per game.
The Otter Room official bracket projections place Winthrop as a 13 seed. That could change depending on how the rest of the conference tournaments shake out, but the Eagles are a threat to any high-seeded team that draws them in the first round.