AUGUSTA, GA – With the final games of the regular season finished on Saturday, the Peach Belt Conference has announced the seeds and pairings for this week's PBC Tournament in Columbus, Ga. Heading into the last day, several seeds were left to be decided as well as two play-in games for the fourth seeds in both the east and west divisions. In the west, Montevallo defeated North Georgia to capture the final slot while in the east Augusta State downed Armstrong.
The first game of the PBC Tournament on Thursday will pit the #1 seed in the west, Clayton State, against the east #4 seed Augusta State. Clayton State locked up the 2012 PBC regular-season championship on Saturday with their win over Georgia College and are the #1 seed in the west for a second straight year. The 2011 NCAA National Champions for their second tournament title in the last three years, and third since 2007, by taking on Augusta State
Augusta State returns to the PBC Tournament for the first time since 2009 following their thrilling 55-53 win over Armstrong in Saturday's regular-season finale. The Jaguars are hoping to reach the semifinal round for the first time since 1998 but face a tough task with their quarterfinal matchup with Clayton State. The Lakers won the first meeting of the two teams by 38 on Jan. 14 in Morrow.
The second game of the quarterfinal round will pit the #2 seed in the east, Lander, against Georgia Southwestern, the #3 seed in the west. Lander enters the tournament on a bit of a slide with losses in two of their final three games, including a 63-62 setback to UNC Pembroke on Saturday. Ranked #19 in the nation, the Bearcats won back-to-back tournaments in 2008 and 2009, but have not returned to the championship game since then.
Georgia Southwestern makes their second-ever appearance in the PBC Tournament after first going in 2010. The Hurricanes will be looking for their first victory in tournament play since joining the Peach Belt for the 2006-07 season. This year's Hurricanes set a school record for wins in the NCAA era with 18 and look avenge a 82-64 loss at Lander back on Jan. 7.
Thursday's third quarterfinal match sees 10th-ranked USC Aiken, the top seed in the east, meet Montevallo, the fourth seed in the west. USC Aiken comes into the tournament with a seven-game winning streak following their regular-season finale win at Flagler on Saturday. The Pacers have reached the PBC championship game in two of the last three years, but are still searching for their first tournament championship in school history.
Montevallo needed a win over North Georgia on the final day of the regular season to take the fourth spot in the west and got it 55-48 at home. The Falcons will return to the tournament for the second straight year in only their third season in the Peach Belt after winning two of their final three. Montevallo faced USC Aiken previously on Jan. 26 and gave the Pacers a scare before falling 52-47.
The final quarterfinal game at 7:00 on Thursday will see Columbus State take their home court after capturing the #2 seed in the west with their 64-54 win over Georgia Southwestern. The Cougars have won four of five games heading into the tournament and have their highest seed since 2007. CSU won the PBC Tournament in 2000 and 2001 and reached the final game in 2003, the last time the tournament was played in Columbus.
The Cougars will meet east #3 seed UNC Pembroke. The Braves enter the tournament on a high after pulling a 63-62 upset at Lander on Saturday. UNCP has won seven of their last eight, including four in a row, heading to Columbus. The Braves are looking for their first win at the PBC Tournament since 2003 which would put them into the semifinal round for the first time in school history. To do so, the Braves will have to erase memories of their last trip to the Lumpkin Center on Jan. 28 when they fell to CSU 64-48.
The four winners of Thursday's games will advance to the semifinal round on Saturday at 2:00 and 4:00 with the championship game on Sunday at 2:00. The winner of the PBC Tournament will get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
2012 Peach Belt Basketball Tournament
Hosted by Columbus State
Thursday, March 1
#W1 Clayton State vs. #E4 Augusta State 1:00
#2E Lander vs. #3W Georgia Southwestern 3:00
#1E USC Aiken vs. #W4 Montevallo 5:00
#3E UNC Pembroke vs. #2W Columbus State 7:00