The Liberty men’s basketball team will face Mississippi State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Flames will be in the East Region, where they will face the Bulldogs on Friday at 7:27pm, at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif.
The Flames will enter the NCAA Tournament as a No. 12 seed, the highest seeding in school history, while Mississippi State is a No. 5 seed. The winner of the Liberty vs. Mississippi State matchup will face the victor in the game No. 4 seed Virginia Tech vs. No. 13 seed Saint Louis game on Sunday.
Mississippi State comes into the NCAA Tournament with a 23-10 overall record. The Bulldogs finished the regular season with a 10-8 mark in the SEC, which was tied for sixth place with Ole Miss. Mississippi State lost to Tennessee 83-76 in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament.
This is the third time Liberty has been sent to the East Region in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. In 1994 and 2004, the Flames were in the East Region, while Liberty was a part of the “First Four“ in 2013 in the Midwest Region.
The Flames are making their fourth appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their first since 2013. Liberty punched its ticket to the “Big Dance“ by claiming the ASUN Men’s Basketball Championship title during its inaugural season in the league. 2018-19 has been a historic season for the Flames, as they were the first team in the ASUN final to advance to the NCAA Tournament in their tournament debut since the 1997-98 season. The Flames shattered many records this year, including winning a school record 28 games, the most in a single season during their Division I era.
McKay has led the Flames to their third straight 20-win season, which has never been done before in school history. The Flames are prepping for their third straight postseason tournament, having participated in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT) in the past two seasons. McKay was also nominated for the Ben Jobe Award, Jim Phelan Award and the Hugh Durhman Award following Liberty’s ASUN Championship win. The Ben Jobe award recognizes the top minority coach in Division I, the Jim Phelan Award awards the top coach in Division I basketball and the Hugh Durham Award is presented to the mid-major coach in the country.
NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament First/Second Round Sites
Des Moines – March 21 & 23 Wells Fargo Arena
Hartford – March 21 & 23 XL Center
Jacksonville – March 21 & 23 Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena
Salt Lake City – March 21 & 23 Vivint Smart Home Arena
Columbia – March 22 & 24 Colonial Life Arena
Columbus – March 22 & 24 Nationwide Arena
San Jose – March 22 & 24 SAP Center
Tulsa – March 22 & 24 BOK Center