Winthrop plays tonight

Few Winthrop fans, we suspect, were crazy enough to drive the 1,570 miles to Denver to watch today's game between the Eagles and the Washington State Cougars in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. After all, fans could suffer that misery vicariously by reading the one-the-road accounts from The Herald's Andrew Dys and Gary McCann.

But some avid fans might fly to Denver to watch the Eagles in person. And many will tune in to WMYT (Comporium cable Channel 12, Channel 55 over the air) for the live broadcast of the game at 7:20 p.m.

We wish the Eagles had drawn an opponent closer to Rock Hill. Somewhere just up the road a piece might have been nice, instead of more than halfway across the country. The only thing to be said for this year's site is that it's slightly closer than last year's: Spokane, Wash.

But a seat at a local restaurant with a big-screen TV, a comfortable chair in the den or even an uncomfortable chair wherever a TV might be broadcasting the game is not such a bad spot from which to cheer on the Eagles.

This is the fourth straight year and the eighth year in 10 seasons that the Eagles have advanced to the Big Dance. But we doubt either fans or players consider the experience old hat. It still is a huge thrill to see the local team on the national stage.

And last year was a momentous one for Winthrop. After all those previous tries, many of them close, the Eagles finally won their first game in the tournament. On March 16, 2007, they beat the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

Ironically, if the Eagles beat the Cougars tonight, they will face the winner of the Notre Dame-George Mason game in the next round. But that's something to think about later; first Winthrop has to get past No. 4 seed Washington State.

About all that's left to say is: Go, Eagles!