KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Lincoln Memorial men's basketball team, which captured its third South Atlantic Conference tournament championship and extended its winning streak to 19 games this past weekend, has ascended to No. 1 in the final NABC/Division II national rankings of the 2015-16 season, it was announced by National Association of Basketball Coaches on Tuesday, March 8.
The Railsplitters (29-2) assume the No. 1 ranking in the NABC poll for the third time in program history, as Lincoln Memorial garnered that distinction for the first time ever on January 10, 2012 and spent one week atop the poll in February of the 2014-15 campaign. It also represents the Railsplitters' highest-ever final ranking, surpassing last season's team that ended the year ranked third in the country.
Lincoln Memorial cruised past Tusculum (101-75), Newberry (105-81) and Wingate (95-83) last week to win the program's third SAC tournament title in the past six seasons. The Railsplitters, who are currently sporting the nation's second-longest winning streak with 19 straight wins (all by double digits), were selected to host the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional for the second consecutive season on Sunday night.
The Railsplitters are set to make their sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, where they will be looking to advance past the round of 32 for the first time in the program's NCAA history. Lincoln Memorial has made four straight appearances in the Southeast Regional semifinals, but has yet to make it beyond that point.
Lincoln Memorial is featured prominently in the most recent NCAA statistical update. The Railsplitters lead the nation in three-point field-goal percentage with a 44.3 percent clip, made all the more remarkable by their 347 made three-pointers, which are the fifth-most in the country. The Railsplitters are ranked second in the nation in scoring margin (+19.6), points per game (96.4) and field-goal percentage (51.8).
The Railsplitters kick off the NCAA Tournament against the eight-seeded Lander Bearcats at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday at Tex Turner Arena. The winner of that contest advances to face the winner of No. 4 Queens and No. 5 Columbus State at 7:30 on Sunday. Head coach Josh Schertz will be looking to earn his 200th career victory in that first-round matchup with Lander.
NABC/Division II rankings - March 8, 2016 (Final Poll)
1. Lincoln Memorial, Tenn. (13) 2. Augustana, S.D. (2) 3. Western Oregon 4. Fort Lewis, Colo. 5. West Liberty, W.Va. 6. Wheeling Jesuit, W.Va. 7. Midwestern State, Texas 8. Fairmont State, W.Va. 9. Kentucky Wesleyan (1) 10. MSU Moorhead 11. Northwest Missouri State 12. Ashland, Ohio 13. Wisconsin-Parkside 14. California Baptist 15. Bellarmine, Ky. 16. Angelo State, Texas 17. Stillman, Ala. 18. Eckerd, Fla. 19. Barry, Fla. 20. Chico State, Calif. 21. UC San Diego 22. Queens, N.C. 23. Holy Family, Pa. 24. West Chester, Pa. 25. Saginaw Valley State, Mich.
Others receiving votes: Seattle Pacific (Wash.) 25, Colorado School of Mines 23, Alabama-Huntsville 21, Cal Poly Pomona 14, Lewis (Ill.) 12, Cal Poly Pomona 11, Findlay (Ohio) 9, Concord (W.Va.) 7, West Georgia 7, Wingate (N.C.) 6, Saint Anselm (N.H.) 3, Azusa Pacific (Calif.) 2, Indianapolis (Ind.) 2, King (Tenn.) 2, Alaska-Fairbanks 1, Ferris State (Mich.) 1.
Dropped out: Cal Poly Pomona (22).