SMSU MEN’S BASKETBALL: Mustangs ranked No. 5 in this week’s regional rankings

INDIANAPOLIS – The Southwest Minnesota State University men’s basketball team dropped one spot to fifth in the third and final NCAA Division II 42-team Central Region weekly rankings released Wednesday afternoon by the NCAA national committee.

The Mustangs, ranked sixth in the first ranking on Feb. 14 and fourth last week, are 24-8 overall after losing in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament championship game on Tuesday night. This week’s rankings do not reflect SMSU’s win over St. Cloud State on Monday afternoon and Tuesday night’s loss to Northern State.

In this week’s rankings, SMSU has a 22-7 record versus both Division II and in-region opponents. Only games versus Division II opponents are counted for the NCAA region rankings. Following this week’s two games, SMSU has a 23-8 record versus Division II and in-region opponents.

SMSU is one of four NSIC schools to appear in the region rankings along with No. 2 Northern State, No. 6 St. Cloud State and No. 7 Minnesota State. The Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) has five teams ranked with No. 1 Northwest Missouri State, No. 5 Missouri Southern State, No. 9 Central Oklahoma and No. 10 Washburn (Kan.). The Great American Conference (GAC) has two teams ranked with No. 3 Southern Nazarene (Okla.) and No. 8 Northwestern Oklahoma State.

The top eight teams in the region will advance to the NCAA Central Region Tournament on March 10-11, 13. Automatic bids are granted to the winners of the NSIC, MIAA and GAC postseason tournaments, with the remaining five spots awarded on an at-large basis.

The official 64-team NCAA tournament will be released this Sunday at 9:30 p.m. (CST) at NCAA.com. The NCAA Elite 8 will take place on March 20, 22 and 24 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

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