Bellarmine wins ASUN Championship, sends Jacksonville State to March Madness

Photo courtesy of JSU Athletics

Thomas Ashworth, Sports Editor

For the first time since 2017, the Jacksonville State Gamecocks have punched their ticket to March Madness.

Bellarmine, who is ineligible to play in March Madness, defeated Jacksonville 77-72 in the ASUN Conference Championship. Jacksonville State, who won the ASUN regular season title, will take Bellarmine’s place and represent the ASUN Conference in March Madness.

If a conference tournament champion is ineligible to represent their conference in March Madness, the regular season champion will represent the conference instead, regardless of their tournament outcome.

Jacksonville State will find out their opponent in the Big Dance on NCAA Selection Sunday, which is Sunday, Mar. 13 at 5pm CST.

The Gamecocks punched their ticket to March Madness in 2017 after winning the OVC Tournament Championship over UT Martin. They fell to #2 seeded Louisville, 63-78, in the first round of March Madness.

With the Bellarmine Knights’ ineligibility, this allowed the Gamecocks to earn themselves a spot in the March Madness Tournament in a very unconventional way.

The NCAA rules that a team must play in Division I for at least four seasons before being eligible for postseason play, which includes the NCAA March Madness Tournament.

Bellarmine is in their second year of Division I play, moving to the ASUN Conference from the Division II Great Lakes Valley Conference after the 2019 season. The Knights will have two more seasons before they’re eligible for postseason play.

The NCAA is voting on legislation to change this rule from four years to two years this April. Assuming the movement is pushed forward, this would make Bellarmine eligible after this season.

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