11th-ranked Lions Earn Top-Spot in NCAA South Region Rankings
SAINT LEO, Fla. – The 11th-ranked Saint Leo University men's basketball team has leapt into the top spot of the South Region in the second installment of the NCAA men's basketball regional rankings released this week.
The Lions displaced No. 14 Florida Southern; last week's top ranked team after the Mocs dropped two consecutive games, including a 79-75 home loss to the Lions that gave the Green and Gold the all-important season sweep over FSC.
Saint Leo (20-6, 12-4 SSC) holds an 18-5 record against teams from the South Region along with an extremely tough strength of schedule rating to go with a Sunshine State Conference regular season title. The Lions head into next week's SSC Tournament as the No. 1 seed and look to make a return trip to the Championship Game on March 10.
At the conclusion of the regular season and conference tournaments, the rankings will be used to seed the NCAA South Regional portion of the national tournament. Only games against Division II opponents are considered for the purpose of the rankings, and the poll is the result of multiple numerical factors such as strength of schedule.
The top eight in the final edition of the regional rankings make the NCAA tournament, though it is possible for less to qualify if an automatic berth is won by a team outside of the top eight. The automatic berths are granted to the champions of the three conference tournaments in the South Region – the Gulf South Conference, Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, and the Sunshine State Conference.
Florida Southern (20-5, 11-4 SSC, 17-4 region) sit in the second spot in the South Region while the University of Alabama in Huntsville (21-4, 14-3 GSC, 19-3 region), last year's regional host, is currently ranked third.
Rollins (14-7, 11-7) is ranked fourth, while Eckerd (17-6, 17-6) rounds out the top five. Currently ranked sixth is Benedict (18-5, 18-5) and Christian Brothers (14-8, 14-8) sits seventh, ahead North Alabama (15-6, 15-6) who is eighth.
Another regional ranking will be released prior to the start of the SSC Tournament in Kissimmee, Fla. and the final standings will be announced on Sunday, March 10 after the conclusion of the conference tournaments. The March 10 release will determine the host of the NCAA South Region Tournament.