Jaguars, Pacers earn NCAA DII Tournament selections

College Sports
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Four Peach Belt Conference men’s basketball teams were among the 64 selected nationwide to compete for the 2019 NCAA Division II championship as the bracket was released on Sunday night.  Augusta, USC Aiken, UNC Pembroke and Francis Marion will each compete in the NCAA Southeast Regional beginning on Saturday, March 16.  The event will be hosted by top-seeded Queens University of Charlotte and played in Charlotte, N.C.

It is Augusta’s 12th selection all time (’78, ’01, ’02, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’14, ’15, ’17, and ’19) and the ninth in the last 13 years for head coach Dip Metress. Augusta is making the postseason for the 14th time overall after reaching the NAIA tournament in 1970 and 1971.

The Jaguars (26-5) are ranked No. 24 in the nation and won their 13th consecutive game to claim the Peach Belt Conference Tournament Championship on Sunday, March 10 with a wire-to-wire finish over rival USC Aiken. Augusta also won the PBC regular season, while senior Deane Williams was named the Defensive Player of the Year, the Co-Player of the Year, and first-team All-Conference. AU rookie Miguel Arnold was voted Co-Freshman of the Year, Dip Metress was named Coach of the Year, and junior Rafael Monteiro was named second team All-Conference.

The second-seeded Jaguars will face #7 Francis Marion in the region quarterfinals on Saturday while #3 USC Aiken will face #6 Lenoir-Rhyne.

USC Aiken and Lenoir-Rhyne have each won two games in the all-time series. The last time the squads played was March 14, 2009. The Pacers won that contest 88-70.  The Pacers reached the PBC Championship on Sunday as the No. 2 seed, posting wins over seventh-seeded Lander and third-seeded Francis Marion.

#5 UNC Pembroke will take on fourth-seeded Catawba. The Braves are 16-24 all-time against Catawba (23-7) in a series that dates all the way back to the 1965-66 campaign. UNCP has captured six of the previous eight matchups with the Indians (23-7) including a 80-75 overtime victory earlier this season at the PBC/SAC Challenge in Salisbury. Senior James Murray-Boyles hit a game-tying 3-pointer with five seconds left in regulation to send that game into the extra period.

Francis Marion owns a 21-8 record after placing third during the Peach Belt Conference regular season with a program-record 16 conference wins.  The Patriots lost in the semifinals of the PBC Tournament Saturday evening.  Five of the team’s eight losses were to squads in the regional field, and FMU owns three victories over teams in the field.

This will be FMU’s third appearance in the NCAA Tournament.  The Patriots were 20-10 last year and lost to UNCP on a buzzer-beater in the opening round.  FMU registered a 27-4 mark en route to an appearance in the round of Sweet 16 in 2004. That squad was eliminated by Kennesaw State University, which went on win the Division II national title

Eight regional tournaments, consisting of eight teams each, begin play on March 16 and play through March 19. The regional champions then head to the 11,000-seat Ford Center in Evansville, Ind., for the 2019 NCAA Division II Men’s Elite Eight. Play tips off in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, March 27, with the semifinals on Thursday, March 28, and concluding with the championship game on Saturday, March 30.

See the full bracket here.

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