Day one on will see the eighth-seeded Volunteer State men open tourney play at 2 p.m. against No. 9 seed Chattanooga State. The No. 7-10 matchup on the men's side will follow at 4 as the host Roane State will tangle with Dyersburg State. The women's 8-9 matchup will follow at 6 with Columbia State and Motlow State playing 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 with top seeded Columbia State meeting the winner of Volunteer and Chattanooga at 2 p.m. The No. 4 seed Cleveland State Cougars will take on the fifth-seeded Motlow State Bucks at 4. Second seeded Southwest Tennessee will play the winner of the Roane and Dyersburg game at 6 while third seeded Walters State will play the No. 6 Jackson State Generals at 8.
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 quarterfinals on 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. Second seeded Roane State will try to protect its home floor against seventh seeded Jackson State while No. 3 seed Cleveland State Lady Cougars will wind up play on day three against sixth seeded Southwest Tennessee at 8.
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 3 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, and the ladies’ semis at 6 and 8. The tournament finals will be played Saturday, with the men taking center stage at 2 p.m. and the women to follow at 4.