Conway, SC (Sports Network) - The first bid to the 2010 NCAA Tournament will be handed out this afternoon, as the top-seeded Coastal Carolina Chanticleers and the third-seeded Winthrop Eagles collide in the Big South Conference title game.
Winthrop has won this event nine times, far more than any other league member, and the program owns a 31-15 all-time record in this tournament. The most recent title occurred in 2008 for the Eagles, who beat second-seeded Radford on Thursday in a 61-46 final to earn a spot in today's showdown. Considering that the squad lost two games to Radford by two points during the regular season, the recent victory was especially satisfying.
As for Coastal Carolina, the most recent of its three Big South Conference Tournament championships came way back in 1993, and the club is 11-19 in this event all-time. The Chants have the obvious advantage of hosting this title game, and they carry a 28-5 overall record into this affair. They are riding a seven-game win streak, which includes Thursday's 92-73 romp over UNC Asheville in the semifinal round.
Winthrop and Coastal Carolina split a pair of meetings during the regular season, and the Chanticleers own a 36-33 advantage in the all-time series.
Winthrop is not an explosive offensive team by any means, as it is scoring only 62.4 ppg on 38.2 percent shooting from the field, including 25.5 percent from three-point range. Fortunately, the team has been able to hold opponents to 61.6 ppg on 39.8 percent field goal efficiency. There is only one double- digit scorer on the roster for the Eagles, Reggie Middleton, who is netting 10.4 ppg to go along with 94 assists and 53 steals. Middleton scored 16 points for Winthrop in Thursday's 15-point victory over Radford, and Charles Corbin netted 11 points. Andy Buechert added 10 points for the Eagles, who only turned the ball over seven times and played tremendous defense, limiting Radford to 25 percent field goal efficiency, including 2-of-18 from three- point range. All of the positives enabled Winthrop to overcome a 48-36 rebounding disadvantage.
Taking a look at the 19-point victory for Coastal Carolina over UNC Asheville on Thursday, the Chanticleers held a 21-point lead at intermission and cruised in the second half. They shot 49.3 percent from the floor in the tilt and earned a 50-34 advantage in points in the paint. A 22-4 edge in fast-break points and a 20-10 edge in points off turnovers also helped the cause. Kierre Greenwood tallied 17 points and seven assists, while both Joseph Harris and Chad Gray netted 16 points. Harris pulled down 11 rebounds as well for the Chants, who are averaging 75.2 ppg this season while limiting opponents to 59.8 ppg on 38 percent field goal efficiency. Harris produces 14.8 points and 9.9 caroms per contest, and he is a 53 percent shooter from the field. Gray adds 14.3 ppg, and Mario Edwards brings 12.2 ppg to the lineup.
03/06 10:43:24 ET