As the 2017 NCAA Division II Basketball Tournament nears, here are the conference championships to keep an eye on.
PACWEST CONFERENCE MEN
As the top two seeds in the PacWest Conference Tournament, Hawaii Pacific and California Baptist are in the enviable position of a loss not ending their season.
California Baptist, 25-3, is currently ranked No. 1 in the West Region. To ensure that top spot when selections are made Sunday evening, the Lancers definitely want to be in the PacWest championship game, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday. The game will be streamed on WatchESPN and ESPN App.
BREAKING: Saturday's PacWest Conference Basketball Championship games will be streamed on WatchESPN, ESPN app as part of #NCAAD2 Showcase! pic.twitter.com/5PNtTJGPeh— NCAA Division II (@NCAADII) February 28, 2017
To get there, California Baptist must beat the winner of the Point Loma/Dixie State in Friday’s semifinals.
Point Loma, which will face Dixie State on Thursday, is playing well. Point Loma went on the road and beat California Baptist 77-71 in the regular-season finale. Point Loma, though, needs to win the PacWest Tournament to extend its season.
Dixie State, which ranked seventh in the Atlantic Region, solidifies its spot as one of the top eight teams in region if it advances to the PacWest championship game.
Hawaii Pacific, 26-2, is ranked fourth in the Atlantic Region and split the two-game series with California Baptist. The Sharks will play the winner of the Chaminade/Azusa Pacific game in the semifinals. Chaminade and Azusa Pacific need to win the PacWest to reach the NCAA Division II Tournament.
Hawaii Pacific concluded the regular season on a five-game winning streak after losing to Azusa Pacific.
Potential players to watch in the championship game are California Baptist 6-4 senior guard Michael Smith, averaging 24.7 points; Hawaii Pacific 6-4 guard Chauncey Orr, 19.2 points; and Hawaii Pacific 6-2 senior guard Connor Looney, 17.0 points.
PACWEST CONFERNECE WOMEN
As the No. 2 team in the Atlantic Region, California Baptist is a lock for the NCAA Division II Tournament but still has an opportunity to reach the No. 1 spot in region.
Alaska Anchorage heads into the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament with one loss and is currently riding a school-record 23 straight wins.
California Baptist, though, is even hotter, carrying a school-record 26 straight victories into the PacWest Tournament. The Lancers definitely want to be playing the PacWest championship game at 5 p.m. ET and streamed on WatchESPN and ESPN App.
2016-17 #PacWestWBB Coach of the Year - @cbulancers Jarrod Olson pic.twitter.com/dBkncgPjqF— PacWest Conference (@ThePacWest) March 1, 2017
But first California Baptist must beat the winner of the Azusa Pacific/Notre Dame De Namur game in the semifinals.
The other semifinal game pits Point Loma against the winner of Dominican/Hawaii Pacific game.
California Baptist went a perfect 20-0 in conference play. Point Loma and Hawaii Pacific tied for second at 17-3. Point Loma and Hawaii Pacific are battling to stay in the top eight in the Atlantic Region. Point Loma is sixth and Hawaii Pacific is seventh.
Potential players to watch are Dominican 5-11 junior forward Sandra Ikeora, who led the PacWest in scoring and rebounding, averaging 22.2 points and 12.9 rebounds; and California Baptist 5-10 senior guard Cassidy Mihalko, who went over the 2,000 career points this season and is ranked second in conference in scoring this season at 20.0 points.
SUNSHINE STATE CONFERENCE MEN
Throughout the season, the Sunshine State Conference was so competitive that when the regular season ended, Barry and Eckerd finished tied for first at 13-5 and Rollins was one game behind at 12-6.
Not surprisingly, these three teams are left in the Sunshine State Conference Tournament. In Saturday’s semifinals, Barry will play Palm Beach Atlantic and Eckerd takes on Rollins.
The winners will face each other 4 p.m. ET Sunday in the championship game. The game will be streamed on WatchESPN and ESPN App.
Of the four teams, Barry definitely has the target on its back. The Buccaneers are ranked fourth in the South Region. Last year, Barry reached the Elite Eight.
MBB Quarterfinals | No. 2 Eckerd defeats No. 7 Florida Southern, No. 3 Rollins wins over No. 6 Lynn. Semifinals are set! #SSCtourney pic.twitter.com/ySHlHsgDG3— Sunshine State Conf (@D2SSC) March 2, 2017
Eckerd has nearly matched Barry this season. The Tritons are ranked fifth in the South Region. Barry, though, beat Eckerd twice during the regular season. The first meeting, Barry defeated Eckerd 97-95 in double overtime.
Barry and Eckerd are in good position to make the NCAA Division II Tournament regardless of what they do in the conference tournament.
Palm Beach Atlantic must win the conference tournament to continue its season, and Rollins needs to reach at least the championship game to have an opportunity to hear its name called Sunday evening. Rollins currently sits ninth in the South Region.
Announcement of the NCAA Division II Tournament will be streamed live on NCAA.com at 10:30 p.m. ET Sunday. The women will be at 10 p.m. ET Sunday.
Potential players to watch Sunshine State championship game are Barry 6-5 senior forward Adrian Gonzalez, averaging 19.9 points; Barry 6-0 junior guard Elvar Fridriksson, 16.6 points; and Eckerd 6-5 sophomore guard Drushaun McLaurn, 16.4 points.
SUNSHINE STATE CONFERENCE WOMEN
Florida Southern hopes it is around for Sunday’s Sunshine State Championship game, scheduled for 1 p.m. ET Sunday and streamed on WatchESPN and ESPN App.
But first Florida Southern, ranked fourth in the South Region, must get by Florida Tech on Saturday in the semifinals. Florida Tech pulled off an upset in the quarterfinals, beating Rollins, which is ranked third in the South Region.
The 73-70 victory by Florida Tech over Rollins was an example of how competitive the conference has been this season.
WBB Quarterfinals | No. 2 @FSC_Athletics defeats No. 7 @SaintLeoLions, 91-55. FSC will play Florida Tech in the Semifinals #SSCtourney pic.twitter.com/AmwPoiqnqy— Sunshine State Conf (@D2SSC) March 2, 2017
Eckerd won the conference with a 16-2 record and its 24-4 overall mark vaulted the Tritons to the No. 1 spot in the South Region. Eckerd, who will play Tampa on Saturday in the semifinals, will likely remain in the top spot in region if it wins Sunshine State Conference Tournament.
Eckerd’s two conference losses came against Florida Southern and Rollins. Eckerd is currently on a six-game winning streak, which includes a five-point victory over Florida Southern in the final game of the regular season.
Potential players to watch are: Florida Southern 5-7 sophomore guard Camille Giardina, averaging 13.6 points; Eckerd 5-8 senior guard Victoria Vine, averaging 13.3 points; and Eckerd 5-9 junior guard Kacie Juday, averaging 12.0 points.