So here it is the end of the regular season and, fittingly, Winthrop finds itself in a tight spot.
The Eagles up-and-down season has seen the last nine games come down to the final couple possessions before being decided.
Tonight at 7, Winthrop plays VMI. At stake is the No. 4 seed in next week's Big South Conference Tournament. The prize that comes with that fourth seed is a first-round home game.
"I would much rather play at home," Winthrop coach Randy Peele said, stating the obvious.
Never miss a local story.
To get the home game the following needs to happen: Winthrop must beat VMI and Charleston Southern must lose, at home, to Coastal Carolina.
A couple weeks ago, picking Coastal to win would be like predicting that a stone thrown into a pond would create a ripple. But the Chants are down to seven scholarship players and one walk on. The team has lost three starting players and are under an NCAA investigation.
Winthrop (13-15, 9-8 Big South) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 61-56 win over Liberty on Thursday night. The Eagles can do their part by downing a VMI team that has won its last four conference games.
Winthrop beat VMI, 88-82 in double overtime, in the first league game of the season 12 full weeks ago. Robbie Dreher scored a career-high 28 points in that game. Andre Jones added 21. VMI's Austin Kenon poured in 29 before fouling out.
VMI (16-12, 9-8) is also fighting for the No. 4 seed. They need a win Saturday, coupled with a Charleston Southern loss. The Keydets won 80-74 at Presbyterian on Thursday, making 17-of-19 free throws in the game while knocking down a baker's dozen worth of 3-pointers.
"It really helps when you make your free throws," coach Duggar Baucom was quoted to have said on VMI's athletic website. "We did a good job of guarding without fouling at the end and came up with some huge rebounds. We didn't click on all cylinders by any means, but we got it done when it mattered."
Tonight's game matters, for both teams.
"We're trying to build some confidence going into the tournament with two straight wins," Winthrop senior forward Charles Corbin said.
"I have a lot of confidence in this team," Dreher said. "All that matters is that we keep winning."
"We are going into the last 3 to 4 games. Trying to win on defense - keep that up (and) we have a good chance of winning this game.
VMI has been known for its high-scoring style. They have led the NCAA in scoring four straight seasons. The won a 110-106 overtime game in Rock Hill two years ago.
The Keydets have been winning lately with a focus on defense.
"It's not a philosophy change so much," VMI sophomore Stan Okoye said. "We had done a lot of gambling on defense but now we are a little more packed in. We were focused more on scoring than defending. But, you know, 'D' wins games."
VMI gave up 99 or more points three times in a four-game stretch before focusing on the 'D'. The team has won four of its last five games and has yielded 68.4 points in the span.
VMI has topped 100 points five times this season but haven't done so since a 105-71 win at Radford on Jan. 13.
It is Senior Night and a pregame ceremony will recognize Corbin and Justin Burton as well as three team managers.