Dixie State gets ticket punched as NCAA invites Blazers to Division II dance

DSU was invited to the NCAA Division II tournament Sunday, file photo from Dixie State University vs. California Baptist University, Men's Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 11, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Dixie State’s men’s basketball team earned its seventh NCAA Division II tournament bid in the program’s 11th-season of four-year competition as the NCAA announced its 64-team tournament field Sunday night.

The Trailblazers were awarded the West Region’s No. 8 seed and will face region top-seed and California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) champion UC San Diego (22-5) this Friday, March 10, in La Jolla, Calif. Game times for all four regional games are yet to be determined.

DSU and UCSD met in the first game of the 2016-17 season in La Jolla back on Nov. 11, a game the Tritons won by a 62-55 count in the opening round of the CCAA/PacWest Challenge.

Dixie State (19-8) has earned an NCAA Tournament bid seven times in eight seasons since 2010, including six-straight appearances from 2010-15, and advanced all the way to the West Regional final (Sweet 16) in 2013. Overall, the Trailblazers are 2-6 in NCAA tournament play, with both victories coming in that 2013 appearance.

“It’s good to get back into the (NCAA) tournament, we had that one year off (2016), and now we’re back at it again,” said Dixie State Head Coach Jon Judkins, who celebrated his birthday on selection Sunday. “I think we deserved (a bid) and I feel (the committee) voted that way because we’ve played some really good teams this year.

File photo from Dixie State University vs. Concordia University Irvine, Men’s Basketball, St. George, Utah, Dec. 3, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“It’s kind of funny that first game of the season you play against a team at their place and now we’re going back there again to play them,” Judkins said. “Our players are excited for the challenge. Now we’ve got to go look at some film and get as much as we can on (UCSD) to prepare our players for Friday. I’m excited for our seniors and for this team and now we’ve got to go finish what we came to do.”

Rounding out the West Region field is No. 2 seed and PacWest champion Hawai’i Pacific (28-2), which will face No. 7 seed Sonoma State (20-8). Great Northwest Athletic Conference champion and No. 3 seed Western Washington (25-5) will play No. 6 Chico State (23-7), and PacWest member and No. 4 seed California Baptist (25-4) will take on No. 5 seed San Francisco State (25-5). In all, five CCAA schools, three PacWest members and one GNAC member make up the field.

All West Regional games will be played in the UCSD RIMAC Arena. The semifinals will take place on Saturday, March 11, and the regional final will be played on Monday, March 13.

Eight teams were selected from each of the following eight regions for the 64-team tournament: Atlantic, Central, East, Midwest, South, South Central, Southeast and West. The winners of each of the eight regionals will advance to the 2017 NCAA Elite Eight, which will be held March 22-25, at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Visit www.dixiestateathletics.com and www.ncaa.com for complete NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball tournament information.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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