FLORENCE, SC - The Francis Marion University women's basketball team learned Sunday night that it has earned a fourth straight invitation to the NCAA Division II National Tournament, and that the Patriots will be the eighth seed in the Southeast Regional to be played in Morrow, Ga., on Friday, Saturday, and Monday (March 11, 12, 14). The three-day regional will be hosted by Clayton State University in its 1,100-seat Athletics & Fitness Center.
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.) Civic Center for the Elite Eight on March 22, 23 and 25, with the national title game to be televised by ESPN2.
Francis Marion, which finished third in the Peach Belt Conference’s East Division, owns an 18-9 record under first-year head coach Kate Glusko and will face the top seed, Clayton State (29-1), on Friday at a time to be determined. The Lakers, also ranked No.1 in the last week’s national Top 25 poll, lost in the semifinals of the PBC Tournament on Saturday.
FMU is making its fourth straight appearance in the national tournament and the program's ninth 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 in 2010 the Patriots again reached the Sweet Sixteen as the fourth seed in the Southeast. Last year as the third seed, FMU advanced to the round of 32.
In addition to FMU and Clayton State, the other teams in the Southeast Regional are No. 2 seed Lander University (27-3), No. 3 seed USC Aiken (26-5), No. 4 seed Georgia College (22-6), No. 5 seed Barton College (25-4), No. 6 seed Tusculum College (21-8), and No. 7 seed Wingate University (19-10).
Four first-round games will be played on Friday (March 11). The semifinals will be played on Saturday (March 12) with the championship game set for Monday night (March 14).
Should Francis Marion win its first game, the Patriots would face the Georgia College/Barton winner in the semifinals.
Francis Marion trails in the all-time series with Clayton State 14-12, with the Lakers winning the one regular-season meeting this season in Morrow 80-60.
The three automatic berths in the Southeast Region were secured by Georgia College (winner of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament), Barton (Conference Carolinas Tournament champion), and Tusculum (South Atlantic Conference Tournament winner).
NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Tournament Southeast Regional
Clayton State University in Morrow, Ga. (1,100-seat Athletics & Fitness Center)
FRIDAY (March 11) First-Round Games (times to be announced)
Clayton State University (29-1) v. Francis Marion University (18-9)
Georgia College (22-6) v. Barton College (25-4)
Lander University (27-3) v. Wingate University (19-10)
USC Aiken (26-5) v. Tusculum College (21-8)
SATURDAY (March 12)
TBA Semifinal Games
MONDAY (March 14)
TBA Championship game