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Andy Wittry | | March 11, 2020

2020 NCAA tournament preview: Get to know Big South champion Winthrop

Winthrop defeats Hampton, 76-68

For the second time under coach Pat Kelsey, the Winthrop Eagles are going dancing.

The No. 2-seeded Eagles beat No. 5 seed Hampton in the Big South tournament championship game 76-68 on Sunday thanks to a balanced scoring effort in which four players scored in double figures, led by D.J. Burns' 16 points off the bench.

Here's everything you need to know about Big South champion Winthrop before the 2020 NCAA tournament.

Winthrop: Record, quick facts

Record: 24-10 (15-3 Big South)
Conference standing: T-1st
NET ranking: No. 146 (as of March 8)
NCAA tournament appearances: 11th
Best NCAA tournament seed: No. 11 (2007)
Best NCAA tournament finish: Lost in the second round (2007)

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS: Brackets, schedules and auto bids for all 32 leagues

Winthrop plays at the fastest tempo of any team in the Big South and the 36th fastest nationally. The Eagles had the most efficient offense and defense in the Big South, so even though they were the No. 2 seed in the Big South tournament, you can argue that the best team in the conference won the conference tournament.

Following a 4-7 start to the season after Winthrop lost road games to the likes of Duke, TCU, East Tennessee State and Furman, Winthrop rattled off 14 consecutive wins, meaning the Eagles didn't lose for almost two months in the middle of the season.

Winthrop is one of the strongest teams in the country at both 2-point shooting (54.1%) and offensive rebounding (34.8%), and the Eagles are in the top 80 teams nationally at getting to the free throw line. That's a pretty good formula for an efficient offense.

Freshman D.J. Burns, a 6-9, 260-pound big man, has one of the highest usage rates in the country, taking 34 percent of Winthrop's shots when he's on the floor. He's averaging 11.8 points per game, which ranks second on the team, while making almost 58 percent of his twos and drawing more than five fouls per 40 minutes. His frontcourt teammate Chase Claxton, also a freshman, leads the country in 2-point percentage at a remarkable 81.2 percent, while turning the ball over on just 11.8 percent of his possessions.

Junior guard Hunter Hale is the team's leading scorer at 14.1 points per game and he's a respectable 3-point shooter at 35.3 percent. He was named the Big South Championship MVP.

Michael Anumba (44.1%) and Charles Falden (39.0%) are also dangerous outside-shooting threats.

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