Winner of A-Sun Tournament Gets Automatic Bid to NCAA Tournament
Belmont’s men’s basketball team defeated Stetson University 72-59 in the semifinal of the 2006 Atlantic Sun Conference Men’s Basketball Championship at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tenn., Friday night. The 400th victory for longtime coach Rick Byrd sets up a historic game with long-time rival and Nashville neighbor Lipscomb University in the tournament championship game today. Neither school has won the A-Sun title or gone to the NCAA since moving to Division 1 a few years ago. The winner of the A-Sun tournament gets an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. The championship game is at 1:00pm central time and will be televised on ESPN2 (Nashville cable channel 29). You can also listen to it online at Bruins Live.
Today’s Tennessean notes the historical nature of today’s championship game:
Call it the displaced Battle of the Boulevard. Lipscomb and Belmont, with campuses located less than three miles apart on Belmont Boulevard, will settle their differences nearly 300 miles away. The neighborhood rivals also will decide today which school makes its first trip to the NCAA Tournament when they meet at 1 p.m. in the Atlantic Sun Conference championship at East Tennessee State University’s Memorial Coliseum Mini Dome. Neither team has played in the NCAA Tournament with both having spent many years in the NAIA ranks where both became national powers in the 1990s. Belmont moved to NCAA Division I in 1997 and Lipscomb followed three years later.
“This is pretty amazing that this soon into (NCAA) Division I these two schools, which fought so many great battles in the late ’80s and mid ’90s, are playing for a conference championship,” said Belmont Coach Rick Byrd. “And one of these schools is going to go to the NCAA Tournament and that’s going to be a special moment for that institution.”
WKRN Channel 2 Sports Director John Dwyer comments, “When the two Universities made the jump to the NCAA, the bid dance seemed like a far off dream. The moves had their critics after both programs enjoyed success at the NAIA level. Now, both are just a win away from the the most exciting post-season college experience there is.”
Belmont Women Also Moving Toward Possible NCAA Tournament Berth
The Belmont women’s basketball team is in first place in the A-Sun with one game left in its regular season before conference tournament play.
The Bruins host Florida Atlantic today at the Curb Event Center with opening tip scheduled for 5:30 p.m. The winner of the game wins the regular season title outright and earns the top seed at the 2006 Atlantic Sun Tournament March 9-11 at the Dothan Civic Center in Dothan, Alabama . Tickets are now available by calling the Dothan Civic Center box office at 334-615-3175 or online at www.dothan.org. Tickets are $7.00 per session. For more information on the 2006 A-Sun Women’s Tournament in Dothan, Alabama, click here.
For tournament website links and more information, click here.
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