Winthrop’s basketball program scored another first on today, when the Eagles cracked the Top 25 rankings in both major polls.
The Eagles, 28-4, winners of 18 straight games and champions of the Big South Conference for the third straight year, climbed to No. 22 in the USAToday/ESPN coaches’ poll and ranked 24th in the Associated Press media poll.
The Eagles had been creeping toward the top 25 the past two weeks and checked in at 27th in both polls last week. After winning the Big South tournament title on Sunday and with several ranked teams losing over the weekend, the Eagles moved in.
“I was expecting it,” coach Gregg Marshall said on Monday, but that didn’t make it any less sweet.
“It’s another first for our program, a landmark achievement,” he said.
The Eagles are the first charter member of the Big South Conference to crack the rankings.
VMI, the team the Eagles defeated 84-81 in the tournament finals on Saturday, was ranked for three weeks at the end of the 1976-77 season, getting as high as 19th and ranking 20th in the final poll, but was a member of the Southern Conference.