NEW ORLEANS, La. (SUN BELT) -- The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders kicked off a very good evening for the Sun Belt Conference as MT was one of four teams selected for the postseason.
The Blue Raiders, the 2013 SBC Tournament champions, earned the 12th seed in the Oklahoma City Regional and will face fifth-seeded Louisville on Sunday, March 24 in Louisville, Ky. in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Middle Tennessee (25-7) completed a strong season that saw the Raiders win their fifth consecutive SBC regular season title. In the Sun Belt Tournament, MT won three games and picked up a 53-48 victory over UALR to claim their seventh Sun Belt Tournament title.
The Raiders have made the NCAA Tournament in nine out of 10 years and is led by three 1,000 point scorers in Icelyn Elie, Ebony Rowe and Kortni Jones. In his eight seasons, head coach Rick Insell has led the Raiders to the big dance seven times. Louisville (24-8) is making its 16th NCAA Tournament appearance and seventh appearance in the last eight years.
Additionally, three other SBC women's basketball teams were selected for the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) to be held March 20 through April 6.
UALR, FIU and WKU were each selected after a successful regular season. UALR, the SBC West Division champs were selected as the conference's automatic bid to the WNIT while FIU and WKU were chosen as at-large representatives to the 64-team field.
UALR (24-8) finished as the runner-up in the SBC Championship, falling 53-48 to Middle Tennessee. UALR made the championship game for the 5th-straight year and faced the Blue Raiders for the fourth time in five seasons.
The Trojans will travel to Stockton, Calif. to take on the Pacific Tigers in the first round of the WNIT on Friday, March 22.
FIU, which finished 19-12 and third in the SBC East, was led by All-American candidate Jerica Coley who leads the NCAA with a 25.9 scoring average. The SBC Player of the Year led the Panthers to its third-straight SBC semifinal game appearance.
The Panthers face Florida on Thursday, March 21 in Gainesville.
Across two tournament contests, Coley averaged 23.5 points per game, as she extended her double-figure scoring streak to 29-straight games and picked up her 21st and 22nd 20-plus, point performances of the season. The two-time SBC Player of the Year also averaged 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per contest.
WKU (21-10) will host East Carolina on Thursday, March 21 as the Lady Toppers go for its 30th postseason win. WKU has reached the postseason in 26 of the past 30 seasons.
Under first-year head coach Michelle Clark-Heard, WKU tied the SBC record for the largest win improvement in league history, winning 12 more games than it did a year ago. WKU advanced to the semifinals of last week's SBC Championship.