Tommy Lopez

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EMCC set for NJCAA Basketball Tournament

On the heels of claiming their fourth consecutive NJCAA Region 23 men’s basketball championship, the 20th-seeded Lions of East Mississippi Community College will take on No. 13 seed Howard College (Texas) during next Monday’s opening round of the 2013 NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship to be played in Hutchinson, Kan.  The tournament’s Game 3 pitting EMCC and Howard is set for a 2 p.m. CT tip-off at the Hutchinson Sports Arena.  

The EMCC-Howard winner will advance to meet home-standing and No. 4 seed Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College Tuesday evening (6:30 p.m. CT) in second-round tournament action.  The week-long, single-elimination tournament will conclude with next Saturday’s (March 23) championship game and third-place contest.

Coach Mark White’s EMCC Lions own the distinction of rating as the only Division I junior college program to have earned a berth in the men’s basketball national tournament each of the last four years (2010-13).  Meanwhile, the 28-5 and 11th-ranked Howard College Hawks hail from the powerhouse Western Junior College Athletic Conference, which has had a representative in the NJCAA Division I men’s basketball national championship game each of the past six seasons (2007-12).  Howard, from Big Spring, Texas, claimed the 2010 national title and South Plains College (Texas) won last year’s championship.

Winners of nine of their last 10 games, the 20-7 EMCC Lions won their fourth straight regional title by posting a 66-62 victory over division foe Northwest Mississippi Community College during Saturday night’s championship contest of the 2013 NJCAA Region 23 Basketball Tournament played at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi College campus in Clinton.  The four-time reigning MACJC North Division regular-season champions knocked off Mississippi Delta Community College (72-58) and Baton Rouge Community College (68-60) in last week’s quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively, to get to the title tilt.       

Highlighted by the first major change in the format of the NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship in its 66-year history, this year’s tournament features a new single-elimination, 24-team format in a fully seeded bracket.  In addition to the 16 district champions as automatic qualifiers, the tournament field is also comprised of four teams from a pre-determined ‘zone’ plan (Districts 2, 7, 10 and 14 this year) and four at-large teams.

Additional tournament information on tickets, hotels and more can be found at www.njcaabbtrny.org.  All tournament games will be aired live on NJCAA TV (www.ihigh.com/njcaatv/).