Previewing Winthrop

A tough mid-major challenge stands between North Carolina and the NIT Semifinals in New York City. The Tar Heels' second round matchup Wednesday with Winthrop tips-off at the Bobcats Arena at 7 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.

North Carolina (1-0) vs. Winthrop (2-0)
Charlotte, N.C. - Bobcats Arena
7 p.m., ESPN


* Winthrop returns four starters and five of its top six scorers from a squad that won the Big South and gave its high major opponents a heck of a challenge. Last season in non-conference play the Eagles beat Marquette and then lost a number of close contests -- to Alabama by three, to South Carolina by six, to Memphis by ten, and then were taken down by a buzzer-beater against No. 2-seeded Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

* Torrell Martin is the Big South Preseason Player of the Year and a two-time Big South Tournament MVP. He's a big shooting guard at 6-5, 200 and is the team's top returning secorer, and is second in rebounds and three-point shooting.

* Craig Bradshaw, the 6-10, 242-pound center, played for New Zealand in the World Championships over the summer. He was the Eagles' leading rebounder (6.0), shotblocker (1.0) and shot 52% from the field last season.

* The floor general is Chris Gaynor, a 5-10 junior who has started every game in his college career. Last season he sported an impressive 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, while also leading the Eagles with 44-percent shooting from beyond the arc.

* Winthrop's season opener was an 89-46 rout of North Greenville. Most noteworthy was junior guard Michael Jenkins, who came off the bench to score 40 points on 12-of-18 three-point shooting. He only averaged 5.8 points a season ago.

* In the Eagles' first-round game of the NIT Tip-Off on Tuesday night they cruised by Iona, 57-38, holding their opponent to 31% shooting from the field. Martin had 11 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals.

* Through the first two games, Winthrop has played 10 players in double-digit minutes, and while the opponents have been lackluster, the Eagles' defense is allowing a mere 42 points per game and just 32% shooting, while outrebounding the two opponents by a +14.5 margin. By comparison, last year's Eagles squad allowed 61.2 points per game, held opponents to 40.1% shooting, had a +5.5 rebounding margin and averaged 9.6 steals per game.

* Head coach Gregg Marshall has been on the radar for a number of head coaching searches by higher profile programs the last few years, and he turned down an offer from the College of Charleston in the offseason.

* Winthrop and North Carolina have only played once before -- a 66-61 Tar Heel win in the 2000-2001 season opener in Chapel Hill. It was Matt Doherty's first game as UNC's head coach.

Location: Rock Hill, S.C.
Enrollment: 6,600
Conference: Big South
Nickname: Eagles
Colors: Garnet & Gold
Head Coach: Gregg Marshall
Record at WU: 167-78
Last Year: 23-8 (13-3, 1st)

Projected Starters (with 05-06 stats):
10 Chris Gaynor (5-10, 160, Jr.) – 6.9 ppg, 4.5 apg
12 Torrell Martin (6-5, 202, Sr.) – 13.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg
 3 Mantoris Robinson (6-5, 195, Fr.) - Matthews (N.C.) Butler/FUMA
33 Phillip Williams (6-8, 217, Sr.) - 5.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg
 5 Craig Bradshaw (6-10, 242, Sr.) – 12.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg

Key Reserves:
11 Michael Jenkins (6-3, 190, Jr.) – 5.8 ppg
31 Taj McCullough (6-7, 220, Jr.) – 4.2 ppg
24 DeAndre Adams (5-8, 158, So.) – 1.3 ppg, 2.0 apg
 1 Antwon Harris (6-3, 200, Jr.) – Clarksville (Tenn.) Highland C.C.
21 Jason Killeen (6-10, 240, So.) – DNP - Medical Redshirt

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