INDIANAPOLIS – Carson-Newman's men's basketball program has slipped to fifth in the second Southeast Region Rankings, the NCAA announced Wednesday afternoon.
The Eagles are one of three South Atlantic Conference institutions that appear in the rankings, which will help decide who moves on to the NCAA tournament in March.
Fellow South Atlantic Conference institutions Lincoln Memorial and Queens occupy the top two sports. Clayton State leapfrogged Carson-Newman and UNC Pembroke after beating the Braves and sits in third with the Braves slipping to fourth.
Carson-Newman has been regionally ranked in five consecutive polls now. The Eagles were either ninth or 10th in last year's rankings, and were the first team out for last year's Southeast Region tournament.
The Eagles are looking for their third NCAA tournament appearance under Chuck Benson and their first since the 2014-15 season.
The Southeast region is comprised of the SAC, Peach Belt and Conference Carolinas. The three tournament champions of those leagues and the top five at-large teams following the conference tournaments qualify for the NCAA Division II Tournament in mid-March.
The Peach Belt is represented by four teams in the rankings, Clayton State is third, UNCP sits in fourth, Francis Marion is sixth and Augusta rounds out the top 10.
Conference Carolinas locks in three of the final four spots in the poll. Lees-McRae and King,whom Carson-Newman beat in overtime 92-91 in November, sit in position to get in in seventh, and eighth, respectively. Mount Olive is the first team out in ninth.
The NCAA Tournament begins March 10 with the start of the Southeast Regional. The NCAA Division II Elite Eight is being hosted in Sioux Falls, S.D. for the second year in a row. That event begins with the national quarterfinals on March 20 and ends when a national champion is crowned on March 24.
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