JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Heading into selection Sunday both Tennessee and Virginia Tech knew they were going to be in the tournament, but Appalachian State knew it guaranteed its spot in the Big Dance with its Sun Belt championship.
These three squads finally learned their paths as the bracket was released Sunday afternoon.
The Volunteers (18-8), who are coming off a 73-68 loss to Alabama in the SEC tournament semifinals, nabbed the fifth seed in the Midwest Region and will face 12th-seed Oregon State. The Beavers (17-12) were picked to finish last in the Pac-12 preseason poll, but pulled off a major upset by taking down Colorado 70-68 in the conference championship game.
When these squads tipoff on Friday, it’ll mark the 23rd tournament for the Volunteers, while it’ll snap a four-year NCAA Tournament drought for the Beavers.
Virginia Tech (15-6) was rewarded the 10th seed in the South region and will square off against No.7 Florida (14-9). The Hokies were one-and-done in the ACC tournament as they fell 81-73 to North Carolina in the quarterfinals. The Blacksburg squad has had a bit of a roller coaster of a month, playing three games in 30 days.
The Gators haven’t had too much recent success, losing three out of their last four games, including getting knocked out of the SEC tournament with a 78-66 loss to Tennessee in the quarterfinals.
Sun Belt champion Appalachian State will make just its third NCAA tournament appearance when its squares off against Norfolk State in the First Four on Thursday.
The Mountaineers (17-11) are making their first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 21 years and have never won a game in the Big Dance. Yosef is coming into the tourney with plenty of momentum, winning four games in four days to snatch the conference championship.
The Spartans (16-7) took down North Carolina Central and Morgan State to capture the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship. The Virginia squad has some history at the NCAA tournament, chalking up a major upset victory over No.2-seed Missouri in 2012.
The winner of Thursday’s contest between the Mountaineers and Spartans advances to face No. 1 seed Gonzaga on Saturday.