March 5, 2012

Lions Punch First Ticket to Big Dance!

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Put your dancing shoes on!

For the first time in the 40-plus year history of the program, the Saint Leo men's basketball team has earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament as the Lions learned they would be the fifth seed in the South Region portion of the 'Big Dance'.  The NCAA South Region Tournament will be contested at Spragins Hall in Huntsville, Ala. over March 10-13.

One of just eight teams selected, the Lions (18-11) will face no. 4 seed Florida Tech (22-6) on Saturday, March 10 at a time yet to be announced.  This will be the third time the Lions will face their Sunshine State Conference counterpart from Melbourne, Fla., splitting the regular-season series.  The Panthers earned their invitation by claiming the SSC regular season title and advancing as far as the SSC Tournament semifinal.

The Sunshine State Conference was well-represented in the bracket as joining the Lions and Panthers were fellow schools Eckerd College (20-8) and Florida Southern (20-9).  Eckerd earned an at-large bid as the sixth seed after finishing second in the SSC before falling to the Lions in the tournament semifinals.  Florida Southern, seeded seventh, entered the tournament by earning the SSC's automatic qualifying bid when they won the conference tournament earlier on Sunday.

Representing the Gulf South Conference is regional host and GSC regular season and tournament champion Alabama-Huntsville (26-3).  They earned the region's top seed in front of fellow GSC school Christian Brothers (23-6) who claimed the second seed.  West Georgia (22-8) rounds out the GSC contingent with a no. 3 seed.

Benedict College (19-10) rounds out the South Region field with the eighth seed by way of winning the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament.

The Lions find themselves on the side of the bracket with top-seed Alabama-Huntsville, meaning if they get past FIT, a potential matchup with the region's no. 1 seed awaits.

Finishing second in the SSC Tournament earlier on a hectic Sunday, the Lions will now prepare for the trip to Huntsville starting on Monday. For the latest news, updates, and information on the Saint Leo men's basketball team, including their preparations for the NCAA Tournament, be sure to follow the Lions on Facebook and Twitter.

Quarterfinals – Saturday, March 10

No. 1 Alabama Huntsville vs. No. 8 Benedict
No. 2 Christian Brothers vs. No. 7 Florida Southern
No. 3 West Georgia vs. No. 6 Eckerd
No. 4 Florida Tech vs. No. 5 Saint Leo

Semifinals – Sunday, March 11

Alabama Huntsville/Benedict winner vs. Florida Tech/Saint Leo winner
Christian Brothers/Florida Southern winner vs. West Georgia/Eckerd winner

Finals – Tuesday, March 13
Opponents TBD