By Nathan Ham
The goal is the same for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Appalachian State: Make the NCAA Tournament.
The Lady Mountaineers, who are the third seed in the East Division, will begin their quest to make it to the Big Dance with a first-round matchup in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament at noon today against sixth-seeded Louisiana-Monroe. Appalachian finished the regular season at 13-11 overall and 10-8 in the Sun Belt. They will also enter the conference tourney winning five of their last six games. UL-Monroe finished the regular season at 3-19 overall and 1-15 in conference play. The winner of this game will advance to take on second-seeded UT-Arlington on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
In the men’s tournament, App State received the fourth seed in the East Division and will square off with Little Rock, the fifth seed from the West Division. Tip-off will be at 8:30 p.m. tonight. The Mountaineers finished the regular season at 13-11 overall and 7-8 in the Sun Belt. Little Rock ended the regular season at 11-14 overall and 7-11 in conference play. The winner of Friday’s contest advances to the Sun Belt Tournament Quarterfinals and will take on Sun Belt West Division champion Texas State at 9 p.m. on Saturday.
The winner of the men’s and women’s tournaments will each receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament that begins on March 18. Instead of having four different regions across the country, this year’s NCAA Tournament will all be played in arenas surrounding Indianapolis. Games will be played at Mackey Arena on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Assembly Hall on the campus if Indiana University in Bloomington, Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis where the NBA’s Indiana Pacers play, Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on the campus of Butler University, Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.