The Big South tournament is not until next week, but as far as Coastal Carolina basketball coach Cliff Ellis is concerned, his team is already in playoff mode.

The Chanticleers enter the final week of the regular season in a three-way tie for first place in the conference’s South Division, and with just two games to play the situation is clear.

Simply put, the Chants need to win.

“There’s a lot of on the line,” Ellis said Tuesday as Coastal prepared to host Presbyterian on Wednesday night at The HTC Center.

More specifically, the stakes are as follows. The top two teams in both divisions will receive first-round byes in the conference tournament, the team with the best overall league record locks up at least a spot in the National Invitation Tournament and the other division champion would be well positioned for an opportunity in one of the tertiary postseason tournaments if desired.

“It’s not about next week or just getting the one or two seed. It’s about postseason play,” Ellis said. “When I came here, Winthrop was the team, but since that time as far as Big South wins it’s been us and UNC Asheville. But everybody else has been very good. We’re just trying to [maintain] the standard.”

The Chants (16-12, 9-5 Big South), who are tied in the division with UNC Asheville and Gardner-Webb, have made three postseason appearances in Ellis’ first six seasons. That included back-to-back NIT trips in 2010 and 2011 following regular-season conference championships and an invitation into the Tournament in 2012 after a distant second-place finish in the league.

That run ended last year when Coastal finished fourth in its own division and was left out of the postseason altogether.

“It’s a different feeling than we had the past couple of years, being able to actually win the conference in the final games,” junior guard Warren Gillis said. “We’re looking forward to preparing for these next few games. We know that we have to win both of them to get where we want to, and we’ve got to be focused on that.”

Coastal didn’t help itself last week, losing games at Winthrop and UNC Asheville to squander a two-game lead in the division, so the team will try to regroup at home with the struggling Blue Hose (6-23, 2-12) visiting Wednesday and underachieving Charleston Southern (12-15, 6-8) coming to town Saturday.

“It’s on us. If you win, you get it. If you lose, you don’t,” Ellis said. “It’s going to be that way this week, it’s going to be that way next week. So it’s great preparation for what lies ahead.”