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A-Sun rise that’s golden: Winning title only way into NCAAs – The Tennessean

If a rainbow is spotted in Nashville today chances are it ends at Belmont’s Curb Event Center. Instead of a pot of gold, however, there awaits an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. That invitation is as good as gold for the eight men’s basketball teams, including Belmont and Lipscomb, set to bounce into the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament. Nothing is sweeter for mid-major basketball programs than earning a place on the national stage. It is that rare opportunity to rub, or throw, elbows with the likes of Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke.
… For Belmont and Lipscomb, this hoops heaven didn’t even exist until a few years ago. Both were NAIA powers before jumping to the NCAA. But leaving the comfort zone of the NAIA was worth it when weighed against the potential payoff of playing in the NCAA Tournament. “It’s what we all play for,” Belmont Coach Rick Byrd said. “At this level we hope that we can be good enough to win a first-round NCAA Tournament game like Georgia State did a few years ago. But really it’s about being able to play in the NCAA Tournament.”
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