Francis Marion basketball is going dancing again

The Francis Marion University men’s basketball team is putting on their dancing shoes for the second straight year, as the Patriots earned an at-large bid to the 2019 NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Tournament Sunday night as the field of 64 teams was announced.

Francis Marion is the seventh seed and will face Augusta University on Saturday in the Southeast Regional, which will be played at Queens University of Charlotte.

Francis Marion owns a 21-8 record after placing third during the Peach Belt Conference regular season with a program-record 16 conference wins. The Patriots lost in the semifinals of the PBC Tournament Saturday evening. Five of the team’s eight losses were to squads in the regional field, and FMU owns three victories over teams in the field.

This will be FMU’s third appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Patriots were 20-10 last year and lost to UNCP on a buzzer-beater in the opening round. FMU registered a 27-4 mark en route to an appearance in the round of Sweet 16 in 2004. That squad was eliminated by Kennesaw State University, which went on win the Division II national title.

The Patriot program also advanced to the NAIA National Tournament in 1991.

FMU head coach Gary Edwards has taken two programs to the Division II Tournament during his career, having taken Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) to four trips between 2000 and 2005.

The Patriots and the Jaguars of Augusta University will be meeting for the third time this season.

Augusta captured an 81-76 win in Florence on Jan. 23 and a 75-70 victory on Feb. 20 in Augusta.

Eight regional tournaments, consisting of eight teams each, begin play on March 16 and play through March 19.

The regional champions then head to the 11,000-seat Ford Center in Evansville, Ind., for the 2019 NCAA Division II Men’s Elite Eight. Play tips off in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, March 27, with the semifinals on Thursday, March 28, and concluding with the championship game on Saturday, March 30.

Author: Rachel Howell

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