The conference champion is not going to the NCAA tournament

In major league college basketball, winning the conference tournament is often the only reliable way for a team to earn an NCAA tourname...


In major league college basketball, winning the conference tournament is often the only reliable way for a team to earn an NCAA tournament bid.

But even before the Bellarmine men’s team beat Jacksonville, 77-72, in ASUN’s conference championship game on Tuesday, they had no chance of making the national tournament.

Bellarmine, a private Catholic university in Louisville, Kentucky, with about 2,400 undergraduate students, was upgraded to Division I from Division II last season. According to NCAA rules, he must go through a four-year transition period to ensure he can handle the rule changes and subsist at the top levelperiod during which he is ineligible for the national tournament.

So while the Knights had the home-court advantage and the support of their fans Tuesday at Freedom Hall, they also had the support of Jacksonville State in Alabama. Bellarmine being barred from receiving the automatic offer for the NCAA Tournament, the spot went to Jacksonville State, despite losing to Jacksonville in the semifinals of the ASUN Tournament, as Jacksonville State won the championship of the regular season. This will be the first NCAA tournament the Gamecocks have entered since the 2016-17 season.

For the Knights, playing games beyond the conference tournament may seem unlikely after an 0-5 start, although the losses have come from strong teams. Bellarmine coach Scott Davenport told a post-game press conference that the “leadership has begun” from team captains at this point in the season.

Davenport said the possibility of his team playing in the national invitational tournament was “totally out of control” because it’s run by the NCAA. He mentioned the College Basketball Invitational, which the Knights entered last year, as a postseason possibility.

“I don’t know how any coach at any level, any sport could be prouder than me,” he said.

Bellarmine won the ASUN Tournament with the help of 3-point shooting, a key part of his Division II success: the Knights shot 40.1% from 3-point range during the 2019-20 season, when They closed out their Division II tenure by winning an NCAA tournament offer before the coronavirus pandemic forced its cancellation. And they had a season-best 312 3-point shooting program in 2016-17, when they made one of their four Division II Final Four appearances of the 2010s.

On Tuesday, the Knights fired 12 of 25 shots from long range. CJ Fleming shot 4 of 11 from 3-pointers and led all scorers with 27 points. Dylan Penn added 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field and won the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.

Failure to reach the NCAA Tournament did not dampen the excitement of Bellarmine fans, who rushed to the court after the final buzzer.

“I looked at the bench and saw them all coming,” Fleming said. “I turned around and we were just overrun. Such an awesome feeling.

Last year’s ASUN Men’s Tournament Final was also marked by the specter of the transition period. Liberty received the conference’s automatic offer for the NCAA Tournament before the whistleblower due to North Alabama’s ineligibility, and then won the game anyway.

Other teams also missed the national tournament due to the transition period. Just last season, the California Baptist women’s program won the Western Athletic Conference tournament title undefeated but was unable to make the NCAA tournament.

Along with Jacksonville State, Bryant, Delaware, Wright State, No. 1 Gonzaga and South Dakota State also won automatic bids on Tuesday.

In Bryant’s game, a celebratory atmosphere reigned in the second half as the home team dominated the Northeast Conference tournament championship. The victory over Wagner sent the Bulldogs to their first NCAA tournament since moving to Division I in 2008, but will also be remembered for a delay of more than 20 minutes due to a fight near the two student sections with Bryant leading of 36 points. with less than five minutes remaining.

Police at the Chace Athletic Center, the arena on Bryant’s campus in Smithfield, RI, escorted fans, including most of the Wagner contingent, from the stands. Wagner’s Will Martinez unsuccessfully tried to enter the stands and was sent off for leaving the bench area.

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Newsrust - US Top News: The conference champion is not going to the NCAA tournament
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