Just a reminder to you, off the beaten path college basketball blog fan, the big dance registers its second RSVP this afternoon as red-hot Coastal Carolina (28-5, 15-3) hosts resurgent Winthrop (18-13, 12-6) for the Big South Conference Championship just off the Grand Strand in Conway, SC.
The Palmetto State rivals split their regular season match-ups with both schools holding serve at home, so we'll see how Winthrop manages amidst the hostility the second time around as they try to hand the Chanticleers their first home loss of the season in DI's second smallest gym (1,039 capacity...really).
Winthrop is no stranger to success, winners of 8 Big South Tournaments since 1999. After beginning the season 7-9, the Eagles rode their defensive prowess to a respectable league record, but will have to find some scoring today if they want to pull the upset. Sophomore guard Reggie Middleton is their leading scorer at just 10 ppg, but is showing some post-season pluck averaging 21 ppg in the tournament.
The Chants feature a balanced attack led by forwards Joseph Harris (14 ppg, 10 rpg) and Chad Gray (14 ppg, 5 rpg), and pride themselves on defense, as they led the league in FG% defense, so you can expect a low-scoring grinder today straight from the Tom Izzo clipboard.
Ahh, come on John, tell us what we really want to know...
You got it, Italics. A Chanticleer is a fabled rooster featured in the Canterbury Tales, because when it comes time to choose a mascot, why look any further than Jeff Chaucer?
So turn on and tune in as the Big South crowns its champ near the shores of Myrtle Beach. To the winner, a likely 14/15 seed awaits, and for the loser, well, a lovely parting package of local flair including Confederate flag beach towels and Girls Gone Wild Crew t-shirts.
So really, everybody wins.
Big South Tournament Championship Game
Winthrop @ Coastal Carolina