NCAA March Madness Preview – Winthrop Eagles

Winthrop Eagles

Big South (26-6, 15-3)

 by Joel Welser

Winthrop is making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010. During the 2000’s, the Eagles were a regular in the tournament and made some noise in 2007 when they upset Notre Dame in the first round. It took some time for the program to get back, but Coach Pat Kelsey has this program on the rise and looking for another big upset.

Big Wins: 11/21 at Illinois (84-80), 11/30 Furman (58-57), 1/19 UNC-Asheville (76-73)

Bad Losses: 11/27 New Hampshire (60-65), 12/31 Radford (80-82), 1/28 High Point (80-83)

Coach: Pat Kelsey

Why They Can Surprise:

Winthrop boasts one of the most versatile and underappreciated players in the country. Xavier Cooks, a 6-8 junior, averages 16.3 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 blocks per game. He even leads the team in steals. Like the rest of the team, Cooks is not afraid to hoist up a few three-pointers, but he is more effective driving past slower or smaller defenders. Cooks, along with center Duby Okeke, makes this a dangerous shot blocking team too. While Cooks goes somewhat underappreciated, senior guard Keon Johnson grabs most of the headlines. Johnson leads the team with 22.5 points per game and he is lethal from beyond the arc and has connected on 99 three-pointers at a 40.4 percent clip this season.

Why They Can Disappoint:

Johnson and Cooks will score a lot, but it would be helpful if Winthrop was able to have a consistent third scoring option. The good news is that Coach Kelsey has a handful of players who can fill that role on any given day. Anders Broman is a very consistent three-point shooter and his brother Bjorn Broman can knock down a few shots too. Forwards Roderick Perkins, Joshua Davenport and Tevin Prescott have all had decent games in the scoring department too, but none have been consistent. If the opposition has to worry about another shooter on the perimeter or a scorer in the paint along with Johnson and Cooks, Winthrop suddenly becomes even tougher to defend.

Probable Starters:

Keon Johnson, Senior, Guard, 22.5 ppg, 2.6 apg

Bjorn Broman, Sophomore, Guard, 5.5 ppg, 2.2 apg

Xavier Cooks, Junior, Guard, 16.3 ppg, 2.8 apg, 9.2 rpg, 1.8 bpg

Roderick Perkins, Senior, Forward, 7.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg

Duby Okeke, Junior, Center, 3.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.5 bpg

Key Role Players:

Tevin Prescott, Senior, Forward, 5.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg

Anders Broman, Junior, Guard, 8.3 ppg, 1.3 apg

Joshua Davenport, Senior, Forward, 5.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 79.7 (41st in nation, 1st in conference)

Scoring Defense: 70.2 (118, 4)

Field-Goal Percentage: 45.7 (105, 3)

Field-Goal Defense: 40.5 (32, 1)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.5 (25, 1)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.3 (71, 4)

Free-Throw Percentage: 72.0 (117, 5)

Rebound Margin: 1.0 (152, 4)

Assists Per Game: 12.8 (223, 3)

Turnovers Per Game: 13.2 (177, 6)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2010    NCAA Opening Round loss to Arkansas-Pine Bluff

2008    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Washington State

2007    NCAA Round of 64 win over Notre Dame

2007    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Oregon

2006    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Tennessee

2005    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Gonzaga

2001    NCAA Opening Round loss to Northwestern State

*all team stats through 3/5

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