College Sports

Queens to face Lees-McRae in its NCAA opener. Its thorn in the side will host.

National power Queens (28-3) will face postseason newcomer Lees-McRae in the first round of the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional tournament Saturday. Above, Royals point guard Ike Agusi looks for room to maneuver during a game at Johnson C. Smith in November.
National power Queens (28-3) will face postseason newcomer Lees-McRae in the first round of the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional tournament Saturday. Above, Royals point guard Ike Agusi looks for room to maneuver during a game at Johnson C. Smith in November.

National power Queens will face postseason newcomer Lees-McRae in the first round of the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional tournament Saturday.

Queens, which lost Sunday to nationally top-ranked Lincoln Memorial 77-75 in the South Atlantic Conference tournament finals, drew the No. 2 seed in the Southeast Regional.

Lincoln Memorial (30-1), which is 3-0 against Queens this season and the only team to beat the Royals (28-3), is the regional’s No. 1 seed and tournament host.

Queens, ranked fifth nationally, is making its third straight NCAA tournament appearance. The Royals were eliminated by Lincoln Memorial both times – in the regional finals in Charlotte last year, and in the 2016 semifinals at Lincoln Memorial.

Lees-McRae (23-8) earned its first-ever NCAA tournament berth Sunday by getting past Belmont Abbey, 75-72, for the Conference Carolinas championship. The Bobcats, from Banner Elk in Avery County, have two Charlotte-area players in their starting lineup and four seeing regular action.

Southeast Regional game times have not been set, but all four quarterfinal contests will be Saturday at Harrogate, Tenn. Semifinals will be Sunday, with the finals on March 13.

The eight regional champions advance to the Division II championships, set for March 20-24 in Sioux Falls, S.D. Northwest Missouri State, the No. 1 seed in the Central Regional, is defending champion.

No other area teams were named to the 64-team field.

Johnson C. Smith, which won the CIAA South Division and fell in the CIAA finals Saturday, did not land an at-large berth. Two CIAA schools were picked – tournament champion Virginia Union as the eighth seed in the Atlantic Regional, and CIAA South regular-season champion Virginia State as top seed and host in the Atlantic.

Three other Carolinas schools got NCAA berths.

Claflin, of Orangeburg, S.C., is the third seed in the South Regional, to be hosted by Morehouse University in Atlanta.

UNC Pembroke is seeded third and Francis Marion sixth in the Southeast Regional.

PAIRINGS

The first-round Southeast Regional lineup:

No. 1 Lincoln Memorial (30-1) vs. No. 8 King (19-10)

No. 4 Clayton State (23-6) vs. No. 5 Carson-Newman (23-7)

No. 2 Queens (28-3) vs. No. 7 Lees-McRae (23-8)

No. 3 UNC Pembroke (26-5) vs. No. 6 Francis Marion (20-9)

Steve Lyttle on Twitter: @slyttle

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