The NJCAA/TCCAA Region VII Conference version of March Madness is ready to tip off on Tuesday afternoon at Roane State Community College. Nine women's and 10 men's teams will hit the hardwood from Tuesday through Saturday's championship games with all the marbles and a trip to the National Championship Tournament on the line.
Day one on Tuesday will see the ninth-seeded Volunteer State men open tourney play at 2 p.m. against ninth seeded Chattanooga State. The seven-10 matchup on the men's side will follow at 4 p.m. as the host Roane State will tangle with Dyersburg State. The women's eight-nine matchup will follow at 6 p.m. as Columbia State and Motlow State will play in the only women's matchup of the day. The Volunteer State women will not be participating in this year's tourney due to alleged rules violations leaving the women's side of the bracket with only nine teams.
Wednesday will see all men's action as top seeded Columbia State will play the winner of Volunteer and Chattanooga at 2 p.m. The fourth seeded Cleveland State Cougars will take on the fifth seeded Motlow State Bucks at 4 p.m. Second seeded Southwest Tennessee will then play the winner of the Roane and Dyersburg game at 6 p.m. while third seeded Walters State will play the sixth seeded Jackson State Generals at 8 p.m.
The Cougars fell twice to the Bucks in the regular season, 98-88 in Lynchburg in November and 90-79 in January in Cleveland. Cougar coach Lee Cigliano hopes the third time is the charm.
"We were very glad that we were able to avoid the first round games on Tuesday and get the fourth seed in the quarterfinalson Wednesday," explained Cigliano. "We lost twice to Motlow in the regular season and didn't really play well either game. They have probably two of the best guards in the conference and they present a lot of problems."
"At this point in the season, it's survive and advance," the coach continued. "We just have to be better than our opponent on that day, what happened up until now doesn't matter and that's the way we approach tournament time. We are looking forward to the challenge and hopefully we can win and move on."
Thursday action will see all ladies games. Top seeded, undefeated and Nationally second ranked Walters State will open play at 2 p.m. against the winner of the Columbia and Motlow game. The fourth seeded Chattanooga State Lady Tigers will battle fifth seeded Dyersburg State at 4 p.m. Second seeded Roane State will try to protect their home floor against seventh seeded Jackson State while the third seeded Cleveland State Lady Cougars will wind up play on day three against sixth seeded Southwest Tennessee at 8 p.m.
The Lady Cougars have beaten the Lady Saluqis twice in the regular season, 75-74 in November in Memphis and 88-72 two weeks ago in Cleveland. Coach Dan Lumpkin knows it will be a test for his team.
"We needed to win two of our last three games to secure the three seed and that is what we did," stated Lumpkin. "The girls have worked very hard and we are excited and ready to get started. We have beaten Southwest twice this year and it's sometimes very hard to beat a team a third time, but that's the task ahead of us. Southwest is a very good team, very athletic and I'm sure they'll be ready for us. It should be a good tournament and we hope to play like we are capable of, and go a long way."
The semifinals will take place on Friday with the men's semis at 2 and 4 p.m. with the ladies semis at 6 and 8 p.m. The tournament finals will be played on Saturday with the men taking center stage at 2 p.m. and the women to follow at 4 p.m.