NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The SFA Lumberjacks will play as the 14 seed in the NCAA tournament, taking on West Virginia Friday in Brooklyn.
This will be the third straight year the Jacks have made it to the big dance. Two years ago the Jacks played spoiler to Virginia Commonwealth University, winning as a 12 seed over a 5 seed, 77-57. Last year SFA lost their first game to the University of Utah.
"It's the rewasrd for an unbelievable season for a group of guys that have worked really hard," Head Coach Brad Underwood said. "We knew we would be up there we just did not know where. I got mixed emotions right now playing a really, really dear friend in a guy I worked for. I know we take great pride in preparing ourselves and I know what West Virginia goes through on a daily basis."
SFA had an automatic bid so making the dance was not a question. The only drama the squad faced was what seed would they get.
"I'm disappointed in being a 14," Underwood said. "I think this is our best team without question. It's not shown in the seeding, but we will put that behind us."
The Lumberjacks had to wait over an hour and a half into the selection show to hear their name called.
"I was real anxious then when I figured out the team we were playing it should be a good one because we play the same defense," Senior guard Demetrious Floyd said.
The 2016 campaign has been special. The team got off to a rough start in the non-conference portion of the season. The Jacks started the year 7-5 but then started league play where they went on a 20 game winning streak that culminated in a Southland Conference Tournament Title win over Texas A&M Corpus Christi Saturday night in Katy.
"It's incredible," Senior guard Thomas Walkup said. "It goes on from last night. We just outnumbered Corpus fans. It was an unbelievable ratio and then today, having everyone here and everyone excited is a great feel and makes you want to go play and know what you are representing."
Walkup has grown into the leader of the team. Walkup was named the Southland Player of the year and was the tournament MVP. Walkup has been a key player all three times the Jacks have gone to the tournament. For Walkup the goal has not been reached yet.
"[Sophomore year] I wa happy to just go," Walkup said. "Now it is a completely different mindset for me. Now it is about winning games for me. We have a great group of guys and it is fun to show up and work with them everyday. It will make it much more special if we go and get a couple of wins here."
When the Jacks learned of their matchup they were surrounded by some of their most loyal fans. Underwood said the fans are as much of the story.
"The support we got locally and all the people coming out to the show means so much," Underwood said. "We are a part of this community."
After the 2 hour party the team quickly shifted their focus to West Virginia. Underwood is trying to keep the week like any other week.
"We are going to do what we do," Underwood said. "We've been on that stage before, We are not going to back down from the moment. We are going to take the challenge on and do everything we can do to prepare our team for that."
Tickets for the first-round game of the NCAA Tournament will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Monday, March 14, and can be purchased by calling (936) 468-5225.