OCALA, Fla. (March 2, 2016) – For the first time since 2011, Tallahassee Community College's men's basketball team is enjoying the taste of March Madness, and the quest for a bid to the national tournament begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday evening in quarterfinal round action of the 2016 NJCAA Region 8/FCSAA State Division I Men's Basketball Championship.
The opponent: Eastern Florida State College, the No. 1 team in the NJCAA Region 8 Men's Basketball Coaches' Poll.
The game can be seen live online, courtesy of The FCSAA Sports Network. All games will be played at Patriot Gym on the campus of the College of Central Florida.
Tallahassee and Eastern Florida State is the third of four men's quarterfinal games scheduled for Wednesday. The tournament tips off at 1 p.m. with Palm Beach State College facing St. Petersburg College. Tournament host Central Florida plays Northwest Florida State College at 3 p.m. Following the Tallahassee-Eastern Florida State tilt, Daytona State College and Polk State College will square off at 8 p.m.
The four winners will meet in semifinal action on Friday with the championship game slated for 5 p.m. Saturday evening. The winner of the single-elimination tournament will advance to the NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship in Hutchinson, Kan.
Tallahassee, ranked fifth in the Region 8 Coaches' Poll, punched its postseason ticket by way of a runners-up finish in the Panhandle Conference. The Eagles, 19-11 overall, finished 8-4 in league play, one game back of Northwest Florida State.
The last time Tallahassee took the floor on February 20 in Niceville, Fla., the PC championship was on the line. Northwest Florida State ended the suspense early en route to a 102-73 win. With a postseason berth already in tow, the loss merely dictated seeding, and the Eagles have had close to two weeks to prepare for their biggest game of the season.
First-year head coach Mark White has navigated the Eagles through one of the nation's toughest schedules, including games against the current No. 1 and No.2 teams, Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College and Georgia Highlands College, respectively. Now it's a win-or-go-home showdown with No. 4 Eastern Florida State who, ironically, is coached by White's former assistant at East Mississippi Community College, Jeremy Shulman.
When White got the nod for the head coaching position at the Scooba, Miss., school in 2007, Shulman was his first hire. Three years later and following the first of East Mississippi's four straight trips to the NJCAA Tournament, Shulman was hired by Eastern Florida State and has led the Titans to four straight Southern Conference Championships.
Eastern Florida State enters tonight's game with a 27-3 record.