VALDOSTA, Ga. — The No. 8-ranked Valdosta State men's basketball team learned Sunday evening it earned a No. 3-seed in the NCAA South Regional, beginning Saturday, March 14 at top-seeded Florida Southern University in Lakeland, Fla. VSU will battle No. 6-seed Palm Beach Atlantic out of the Sunshine State Conference. This marks the 12th time in program history the Blazers have qualified for the NCAA postseason and fourth-straight season.
The Blazers, who have won four-straight Gulf South Conference regular season titles, finished as GSC runner-up in the conference tournament, falling 91-82 Sunday afternoon to Alabama Huntsville. VSU is 26-4 on the year and seniors Clay Guillozet and Darrell Jones named to the GSC All-Tournament Team following the championship game. Guillozet was named GSC Player of the Year this year, marking the third time in four seasons, VSU had the GSC Player of the Year, while both he and Jones were first team all-conference selections.
Earning the top seed and hosting duties for the region is Florida Southern, who won 118-109 over No. 2-seed Nova Southeastern in the Sunshine State Conference Championship Sunday. The Mocs are 29-2 on the year and went 18-2 in the SSC. Florida Southern downed VSU 105-94 on Nov. 30, 2019, in Lakeland, Fla., in the Terrace Hotel Thanksgiving Classic. FSC had been the top team in the three public NCAA South Region rankings leading up to the selection show.
Florida Southern will face No. 8-seed Miles College out of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association, while Alabama Huntsville earned the No. 4-seed and will face fellow Gulf South Conference foe No. 5-seed Lee. Nova Southeastern earned the No. 2-seed and will face league rival Embry-Riddle, while VSU battles PBA, who is making its first trip to the NCAA Championship.
The Sailfish went 21-9 overall and 13-7 in the SSC this season. PBA lost to Nova Southeastern 93-78 in the second round of the SSC Tournament. Sailfish stars Jules Jasmin and Darhius Nunn were named to the SSC All-Conference Team this season. Jasmin earned honorable mention all-league honors, while Nunn earned a spot on the SSC All-Newcomer Team. The Sailfish are coached by David Balza as this is his seventh season at the helm of the program.
The South Regional will begin Saturday, Mar. 14, with four games, followed by the two regional semifinals on Sunday and the regional championship is scheduled for Tuesday, Mar. 17. The winner of the regional will advance to the 2020 NCAA Division II Elite Eight in Evansville, Ind., Mar. 26-28, at The Ford Center, for the national quarterfinals and national semifinals. The Division II National Championship will be played April 5, at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Ga., in conjunction with the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Final Four.
The Blazers are 8-11 in the NCAA Championship and qualified for the Elite Eight in 2010, losing to Indiana (Pa.) in the national quarterfinal round. The Blazers have qualified for the postseason six times under current head coach Mike Helfer, including the 2010 run to the Elite Eight.
Helfer won his 300th game at VSU earlier this season as he is the second winningest coach in program history and earned GSC Coach of the Year honors for the fourth time this season. The 26 wins by the Blazers this season ties the second-most wins in a season during Helfer's tenure, as he won 28 in 2009-10 and 26 wins in both 2016-17 and 2017-18. This year is the eighth time Helfer has won 20 or more games in a season and fourth-straight year.
Check back with vstateblazers.com for game times and further information on the regional throughout the week leading up Saturday's Round of 64 games.