MONTEVALLO, Ala. – In just their second year of championship eligibility, King College is ready to make a statement in the NCAA Division II basketball world. The Tornado are settled in Montevallo, Ala. but far from complacent with the mark they have already made on school history. The Navy and Scarlett are fine-tuning their game over the next 48 hours in preparation for one final 2012 showdown with Lincoln Memorial University on Saturday in an effort to achieve the College's first-ever NCAA National Tournament win and the right to continue their journey toward a National Championship.
Regional Tournament website (provided by University of Montevallo)
NCAA Winter Championships – click here
The Southeast region poll is comprised of eight teams from the South Atlantic Conference, the Peach Belt Conference, and Conference Carolinas. Top-seeded University of Montevallo is hosting the Southeast Region tournament from BankTrust Arena (Montevallo, Ala.) after making the jump from No. 4 to No. 1 in the region after conference tournament play.
King (23-6) earned its first NCAA Tournament bid as an at-large and was tabbed the No. 5 seed in the tournament. The announcement was made Sunday night during the NCAA Division II Selection Show that not only the Tornado had been selected to join the pool of 64 teams to compete in the national tournament but that their first opponent would be one they are all too familiar with, Lincoln Memorial University (25-5). Lincoln Memorial had been nationally ranked for a majority of the season, topping out at No. 3 in the country and No. 1 in the region, but struggled down the stretch. The Railsplitters lost to Wingate University in the South Atlantic Conference Tournament Semifinals, 64-60, in overtime before earning an at-large bid.
The Tornado and the fifth-seeded Railsplitters of LMU will meet on Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. CST / 9:30 p.m. EST at BankTrust Arena as the final game in a full day of men's basketball. Lincoln Memorial and King have met twice before this season, both before Christmas and resulting in a pair of LMU wins by a combined eight points.
In their second game of the season at the SAC/Conference Carolinas Challenge, King held a one-point lead with just under four minutes to go in the game before junior guard Eddie Piccinini injured an ankle driving to the bucket late in the game and the Splitters went on to win, 75-69. Lincoln Memorial was ranked No. 4 in the country at the time of the contest.
In their second meeting, both teams battled back and forth down to the final second in a 77-75 LMU victory. King was within on point after Brian Hewitt hit a three with 48 seconds remaining but after a pair of free throw makes by the Splitters and a three-point miss, the Tornado fell by a 77-75 final as LMU went on to its 11th straight victory.
After that meeting, King went on to win nine straight games and began receiving national attention in the Coaches' Poll when they received their first votes in the Jan. 11 rankings. They cracked into the Division II National Top-25 for the first time in school history later that month in the rankings released on Jan. 31 when the Tornado improved to 17-3 overall. King has flirted with the Top-25 for the duration of the season and currently is ranked 30th by virtue of votes received (8) in the latest poll released March 6.
The winner of the King/Lincoln Memorial matchup will go on to face the winner of No. 1 Montevallo versus No. 8 Barton College on Sunday (March 11) at 7:30 p.m. CST. Barton (20-9) earned an automatic berth to the tournament after upsetting both Queens (N.C.) and Mount Olive en route to winning the Conference Carolinas Tournament.
Additional participants in this year's tournament include host Montevallo (No. 1), USC-Aiken (No. 2), Anderson University (No. 3), Columbus State University (No. 6), Wingate University (No. 7), and No. 8 seed Barton College. Anderson and Columbus State will kick off the day's festivities at 12:00 p.m. CST with game one of four on Saturday.
For preview of this year's regional participants, click here.
As an added bonus, an interactive live blog will be setup for fans and followers to get an inside look at the view from the scorer's table. Viewers may interact with our live blogger, sports information director Ryan Gasser, and ask questions about the action on the court, give your commentary or show your support for the Tornado in their rematch against LMU. The blog center will be set up shortly.