The Queens Royals are in Sioux Falls, S.D., for the NCAA Division II’s basketball Elite Eight. The second-seed Royals (31-3) face seventh-seed California Baptist (28-5) at 7 p.m. Tuesday for a spot in Thursday’s semifinals. The championship game is Saturday.
Here are five things to know about what has been a magical season for coach Bart Lundy’s Royals:
▪ The Royals had to knock off South Atlantic Conference nemesis Lincoln Memorial to make it this far, beating the Railsplitters in the Southeast Region championship game on their home floor in Harrogate, Tenn. Lincoln Memorial had beaten the Royals three times earlier – sweeping their regular-season series and also winning the conference-tournament championship game.
▪ The balanced and experienced Royals have four players averaging in double figures scoring – senior wing Todd Withers (13.6 ppg), senior guard Mike Davis (12.5), senior point guard Ike Agusi (11.4) and senior guard Jalin Alexander (11.4). Withers leads the team with 8.1 rebounds per game.
▪ This is the Royals’ third trip to the Elite Eight. The first time came in 2001, when the Royals were accompanied by city rival Johnson C. Smith to Bakersfield, Calif. Queens also made it in 2003, losing to Northeastern (Okla.) State in the semifinals.
▪ California Baptist, located in Riverside, Calif., will move up to Division I’s Western Athletic Conference next season. The Lancers’ Kalidou Diouf, a 6-foot-9 senior center who is from Heidelberg, Germany, averages 18.0 points and 8.7 rebounds.
▪ Although the second-seed Royals are among the favorites in Sioux Falls, perhaps some postseason good fortune can still rub off them from Maryland-Baltimore County, which became the first No. 16 team to win an NCAA Division I tournament game last week, when the Retrievers beat Virginia in Charlotte. UMBC practiced in Queens’ Levine Center all week. Lundy and Retrievers coach Ryan Odom are good buddies.
David Scott: @davidscott14