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Big South Championship Preview: Winthrop and Coastal Carolina Ready for Round 3?

In-state rivals Coastal Carolina and Winthrop will battle on Sunday for the Big South Championship. Will the third time be the charm for the Chanticleers against the Eagles?

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

#1 Coastal Carolina vs #4 Winthrop

March 9, Noon
HTC Center
Conway, South Carolina

A pair of in-state rivals will take center-stage in the Big South Championship on Sunday as Coastal Carolina will take on the Winthrop Eagles.

Although the game is on Coastal Carolina's own floor, the Eagles may be the favorites coming into this one. Winthrop took swept the Chanticleers in the regular season and have been a thorn in Coastal's side virtually forever. The Eagles are looking to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011 when they won the Big South title against Coastal on their home floor. History both old and recent is on Winthrop's side.

Winthrop finished fourth in the South Division and made the championship game after taking down Liberty, top seeded High Point, and UNC Asheville. Sunday's game will be the fourth game in five days for Pat Kelsey's squad.

Meanwhile, Coastal Carolina is looking for their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1993.  The Chants were the South Division's number one seed and took down Charleston Southern and VMI to get to the championship game on their home court.

Both of these teams are pretty equal and the key is going to be the guard play. It's basically going to boil down to Winthrop's Keon Johnson, Keon Moore, and Andre Smith versus Coastal Carolina's Josh Cameron, Warren Gillis, and Elijah Wilson.

On the inside both teams have bodies they can throw at each other but no individual stars. Perhaps an unexpected performance in the paint could be the difference maker?

In terms of coaching this match up could not be any more different. Coastal Carolina is coached by former Auburn and Clemson coach Cliff Ellis, who is 68 years old and the de facto dean of coaches in the Big South. Meanwhile, Winthrop has 38 year old Pat Kelsey at the helm, who is in his second year of being a head coach.

Sunday's match up should be a good one and you can catch it on ESPN2 for a noon tip-off.