FLORENCE, SC - The Francis Marion University women's basketball team learned Sunday night that it has earned a third straight invitation to the NCAA Division II National Tournament, and that the Patriots will be the third seed in the Southeast Regional to be played in Greenwood, S.C., on Friday, Saturday, and Monday (March 12, 13, 15). The three-day regional will be hosted by Lander University in its 2,500-seast Finis Horne Arena.
The 64-team field announced on Sunday night included 22 automatic qualifiers and 42 at-large selections. Winners of each of the eight regionals will advance to St. Joseph, Mo., for the Elite Eight on March 23, 24 and 26.
Francis Marion, which finished with the second-best record during the Peach Belt Conference regular season and lost in Sunday’s conference tournament championship game, owns a 26-4 record and will face the sixth seed, Newberry College (21-7), on Friday at a time to be determined.
FMU is making its third straight appearance in the national tournament under third-year head coach Heather Macy, and the program's eighth appearance overall since moving to NCAA affiliation in 1992. The Patriots earned invitations for five consecutive years between 1997 and 2001, reaching the round of Sweet Sixteen in four straight years (1998-2001) and making the 1998 Final Four. In 2008, FMU hosted the regional as the sixth seed, and last year the Patriots again reached the Sweet Sixteen as the fourth seed in the Southeast.
In addition to FMU and Newberry, the other teams in the Southeast Regional are No. 1 seed Lander (25-3), No. 2 seed Clayton State University (24-6), No. 4 seed Lenoir-Rhyne College (21-7), No. 5 seed Carson-Newman College (23-6), No. 7 seed Tusculum College (19-9), and No.8 seed Anderson University (20-10).
Four first-round games will be played on Friday (March 12). The semifinals will be played on Saturday (March 13) with the championship game set for Monday night (March 15).
Should Francis Marion win its first game, the Patriots would face the Clayton State/Tusculum winner in the semifinals.
FMU owns a 2-3 record against the other teams in the regional. The Patriots lead the all-time series with Newberry 21-3, but the two teams have not met since Dec. 16, 2006, when Newberry claimed a 63-42 home win.
The three automatic berths in the Southeast Region were secured by Clayton State (winner of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament), Anderson (Conference Carolinas Tournament champion), and Tusculum (South Atlantic Conference Tournament winner).
NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Tournament Southeast Regional
Lander University in Greenwood, S.C. (2,500-seat Finis Horne Arena)
FRIDAY (March 12) First-Round Games (times to be announced)
Clayton State University (24-6) v. Tusculum College (19-9)
Francis Marion University (26-4) v. Newberry College (21-7)
Lander University (25-3) v. Anderson University (20-10)
Lenoir-Rhyne College (21-7) v. Carson-Newman College (23-6)
SATURDAY (March 13)
TBA Semifinal Games
MONDAY (March 15)
TBA Championship game