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By Scott Rouch

Regionally Speaking

basketball_bouncesA conference championship is a great accomplishment, one that brings respect to coaches and players and swells the fan base with pride.

But it is not the end-all, be-all.

Beyond the conference wall lurks the dream of becoming a men’s or women’s national champion. The first step is making it to the postseason; being one of the eight representatives from one of the eight regions.

Heading into conference tournaments, there are teams from the CIAA and SIAC already poised to make a run to the postseason, while others can put themselves into position with a strong showing. Of course, the best way to get into the NCAA tournament is to win the conference championship and earn an automatic bye. 

CIAA Men

The 22-4 Bowie State University Bulldogs have secured a first-round bye in the CIAA Tournament and are firmly entrenched as the No. 2 team in the Atlantic Region. They most likely don’t need a win in the CIAA Tournament, but at least one win would cement a spot.

Currently Shaw University and Winston-Salem State University are ranked at No. 6 and No. 7, respectively. The Southern Division title won’t be decided until Saturday night, with the winner perhaps taking a slight lead in the region race. Both Shaw and WSSU will be on opposite sides of the CIAA bracket, and a good run by both could insure an invitation to the NCAA DII tournament.

Helping both Shaw and WSSU is the fact the three teams ahead of them in the region—Mercyhurst, Indiana University, Pennsylvania and Mansfield—all are in the PSAC and at least two of them will suffer a loss.

CIAA Women

The Lady Golden Bulls of Johnson C. Smith University are the only team ranked in the Atlantic Region, coming in at No. 5. A win should give them a spot, but nothing is guaranteed on the women’s side.

SIAC Men

Benedict College, like Bowie State, looks secure heading into next week’s SIAC Tournament in Atlanta. They are No. 3 in the South Region, and just one win should be all they need.

Stillman College is right on the cusp, currently in the eighth and final spot. One win might be enough, but two wins would be better.

SIAC Women

This could be the spot where nobody gets in. Ft. Valley State (19-9) is ranked No. 10 in the South and most likely need to win the conference championship to advance.

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