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Three basketball foes make NCAA tourney

ACU forward Austin Cooke battles Xavier's Isaiah Fillmore (31) and Justin Martin (20) in a Nov. 25 game in Cincinnati, Ohio.
ACU forward Austin Cooke battles Xavier’s Isaiah Fillmore (31) and Justin Martin (20) in a Nov. 25 game in Cincinnati, Ohio.
How tough was the non-conference men’s basketball schedule played by Abilene Christian University in 2013-14?
Two of the Wildcats’ early season opponents were named this afternoon to the NCAA tournament, and a third thinks it should be.
Xavier (21-12 overall, 10-8 in the Big East Conference) made it, as did Iowa (20-12 overall, 9-9 in the Big Ten). Towson (23-10 overall and 13-3 in the Colonial Athletic Conference), was left on the outside looking in at the Big Dance.
Two other ACU opponents – Maryland and St. Bonaventure – had solid records in 2013-14. The Terrapins were 17-15 overall and 9-9 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and St. Bonaventure finished 18-15 overall and 6-10 in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
ACU plays in the Southland Conference, whose champion earns an automatic bid, which Stephen F. Austin State won impressively with its 31-2 overall record and perfect 18-0 mark in the league. ACU lost to SFA, 64-48, in a game in Nacogdoches played without the Wildcats’ two top scorers. The Lumberjacks, a No. 12 seed in the West regional, will meet fifth-seeded Virginia Commonwealth University in a game in San Diego, Calif.
SFA played a strong schedule, earning a 52 RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) score that is one of the tools used by the NCAA Selection Committee (Xavier was 47 and Iowa 57). The Lumberjacks’ non-conference schedule also included Texas, Towson, East Tennessee State, James Madison, Marshall, Samford and North Carolina-Wilmington. SFA’s only losses were on the road at Texas and ETSU.