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UAFS Lions Earn Invite To Big Dance

 UAFS is polishing up its dancing shoes.

     After losing to the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in an overtime upset in the first round of the Heartland Conference Tournament, the Lions were a bit concerned whether or not they would earn one of the South Central Region’s five at-large bids to the NCAA Division II National Tournament.

     Turns out, the Lions had nothing to worry about.

     Twenty-plus wins, a Heartland Conference regular-season championship and a No. 6 regional ranking was more than enough proof for the selection committee that the Lions belonged in the national tournament.

     UAFS (21-6) will be the No. 6 seed in this week’s South Central Region Tournament and will play No. 3 seed Midwestern State at a yet-to-be announced time on Saturday in the first round of the eight-team tournament that will be hosted by No. 1 seed and No. 1 nationally-ranked Metro State University in Denver, Colo.

    "I am thrilled for our guys and our program," UAFS coach Josh Newman said. "We started the year with the goal of playing in the NCAA tournament. We scheduled a very tough non-conference schedule with the hopes of achieving that goal. I'm glad it worked out."

     It will be the Lions’ first appearance in the national tournament as a member of NCAA Division II, and it is the first overall national tournament appearance for UAFS since winning the NJCAA National Championship in 2006.

     UAFS was one of three teams from the Heartland Conference to earn a bid to the national tournament.

     St. Mary’s, which was ranked No. 5 in the last region poll, received the No. 5 seed despite finishing third in the regular season and losing to eventual conference tournament champion Texas A&M International in the first round of the conference tournament.

     Texas A&M International, which finished second in the regular season, received the conference’s automatic bid to the tournament by winning the conference tournament and is the No. 7 seed.

     Metro State is the No. 1 seed and will play No. 8 seed University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, Tarleton State is the No. 2 seed and will play Texas A&M International and Colorado School of Mines is the No. 4 seed and will play St. Mary’s.

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