INDIANAPOLIS – With one game to go in the 2018-19 regular season, Carson-Newman jumped to second in the NCAA Southeast Region Rankings released by the governing body Wednesday setting the stage for the Lady Eagles.
"Overall we are probably in a decent spot," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "Over our last two games at home, I don't think we have played our best basketball so I wouldn't think that we are actually peaking right now. This time of year you are only looking at W's. You can nitpick it as much as you want but you can see how some of these teams get beat. We are fortunate to continue to win."
The selection committee uses these rankings as a guideline to make up the NCAA Tournament field. The top eight teams in the region make the NCAA Tournament with three automatic bids going to the winners of the conference tournaments from the South Atlantic Conference, Conference Carolinas and the Peach Belt Conference.
For the No. 1 team in the region, that school gets to host the Southeast Region tournament over the second weekend of March with three wins needed to advance to the National Quarterfinals in Columbus, Ohio at Alumni Hall from March 26-29.
After beating Tusculum last week, the C-N is 5-4 against teams ranked in the region boasting the second best RPI in the region at .601 behind Anderson's .629. North Georgia is the next closest team at .594. At 13-6 against teams with a .500 or better record, only Anderson's 15 is better than the Lady Eagles.
One can surmise that Anderson has safely secured the top slot in the region and will host sitting at 25-2 on the season with the best numbers minus its strength of schedule among regionally ranked teams. Carson-Newman's .541 and Wingate's .539 are the only clubs that have a higher mark.
Wingate dropped from two last week to fourth losing 64-51 at Newberry last Wednesday but the Bulldogs travel to Tusculum on Saturday with a chance to secure the No. 2 seed in the SAC Tournament by virtue of a regular-season sweep of C-N.
North Georgia pushed itself to third riding a nine-game winning streak while winning Wednesday night after the rankings had been officially released against Lander 82-79. The Nighthawks need a win on Saturday against Georgia Southwestern, the second-worst team in the Peach Belt, to secure a regular-season title.
Lander is in fifth in the region and it could be concluded that the Bearcats are the last in the two tiers of the region finishing out the upper echelon. The Bearcats have the fifth-best RPI playing a challenging schedule versus Barton's No. 8 RPI and a strength of schedule that is the third-worst of any team in the Southeast.
Tusculum and Clayton State have the inside track to the final two spots over Flagler and Emmanuel but each school has chances to get another resume-defining win before the official selection show.
The Lady Eagles conclude the regular season on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. against Newberry inside of Eleazer Arena. Broadcast coverage can be found on 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and cneagles.com/live starting at 1:45.
- CN -