Pacer men to host Southeast Regional

  • Posted: Sunday, March 9, 2014 10:48 p.m.

COLUMBUS, Ga. — After the No. 7 USC Aiken men won the Peach Belt Conference Tournament on Sunday, the formal announcement for the hosting site of the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional was merely a formality.

The regional is coming back to Aiken.

For the second straight year, the Pacers (29-3) will host the top eight teams from the PBC, Conference Carolinas and the South Atlantic Conference to determine which team will be headed to the national Elite Eight in Evansville, Ind.

“It means a lot because it was one of our goals,” said head coach Vince Alexander. “By the grace of God, all of our goals we’ve come across, our guys have met them.”

So far, that has included a PBC regular-season crown, a program record for wins in a season and the PBC Tournament title. Now the worst the team can do is match the USCA record for fewest losses in a season at four, and this year’s winning percentage will, as a result, be the best in program history.

All that will make the Pacers the team to beat in this year’s regional against the likes of No. 2 seed Lincoln Memorial, No. 3 Montevallo, No. 4 Anderson, No. 5 GRU Augusta, No. 6 Georgia Southwestern, No. 7 Carson Newman and No. 8 Limestone.

Senior guard Jesse Seilern said the target being the host and No. 1 seed will bring didn’t bother him.

“I think, I feel and I know that’s the way it was supposed to be,” Seilern said.

That attitude, which Alexander said comes from his players being “crazy like I am,” is why the coach doesn’t think hosting for a second straight year will pile on any extra pressure. He added that his team places importance on each and every play of every game, regardless of the circumstance.

“Every possession is valuable, so there’s no pressure,” he said.

Another senior, point guard DeVontae Wright, said that the team’s performance in the conference tournament gives the Pacers “good momentum” heading into the national championship tournament. He won tournament MVP with averages of 18 points and 6.3 assists in three games but still felt the team’s best basketball was still ahead.

“It’s a very confident feeling that we won, and I know we didn’t play our best,” Wright said.

The USC Aiken women missed the regional for the first time since 2010.

The men will begin their run against Limestone (21-8), a team that won the Conference Carolinas tournament to move from outside the top 10 in the next-to-last regional poll into the field for this weekend.

The regional schedule will be released later this week.

Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University. Follow him on Twitter @ASJTimm.

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