AUGUSTA, GA – The 2012 regular season came to a thrilling end on Saturday night and the Peach Belt Conference has released the bracket for the 2012 Tournament which begins this Friday at the Frank G. Lumpkin Center in Columbus, Ga. Heading into the final day, the eight teams that were participating were already known, but the seeds and matchups had yet to be determined for most participants. A handful of games decided the fates of many, with eyes on Augusta State's win at Armstrong, Clayton State's win over Georgia College and Columbus State besting Georgia Southwestern.
The first game of Friday's quarterfinals will pit the top seed in the west, Montevallo, against the #4 seed in the east in UNC Pembroke. Montevallo is hoping for another shot at their first PBC Tournament title after reaching the championship game in 2010 and the semifinals in 2011. The Falcons won six of their final seven games heading into the tournament and locked up the seed on Saturday with an 81-67 win over North Georgia.
UNC Pembroke finished the regular season in a tie with Lander after falling to the Bearcats 79-75 in Saturday's finale. The two teams split their two meetings, had the same divisional record and the same record against both USCA and ASU atop the division. Lander took the #3 seed thanks to their sweep of Francis Marion while UNCP split with FMU. Nevertheless, UNCP remains a threat in the tournament after reaching their first championship game in 2011. The Braves have won three of four heading in and lost to Montevallo by only five in early January.
Friday's second quarterfinal is a battle of the cats as the Augusta State Jaguars and Georgia College Bobcats face off. Augusta State defeated Armstrong 91-78 on the road on Saturday to avoid entering a tiebreaker, instead the Jaguars hold the #2 seed in the east with wins in three of their final four. ASU won the 2011 PBC Tournament and two of the last three championships overall.
Georgia College fell to the #3 seed in the west with their loss at Clayton State on Saturday. Despite the loss, the Bobcats remain one of the hottest teams in the league with wins in eight of their final 10 regular-season games. Georgia College reached the PBC semifinals in 2009 but will be looking for their first berth in the championship game since winning the tournament in 1999. GC will also be looking to avenge a 59-56 home loss to Augusta State on Jan. 18.
USC Aiken won their second-ever PBC regular-season championship on Saturday following their win at Flagler. The Pacers will be the #1 seed in the east for the first time since 2008 and hope to continue their recent run of championship game appearances, playing for the title in three of the last four years including a championship in 2010. The Pacers have won four of their last five heading to Columbus.
Clayton State will be the #4 seed in the west and face USCA in the first round. The Lakers defeated Georgia College in the regular-season finale on Saturday to snap a two-game slide. Clayton State's matchup with USC Aiken is intriguing on both sides as the Lakers beat USCA to win the 2008 PBC Tournament, Clayton State's only tournament title, and beat the Pacers 74-71 earlier this season.
Columbus State finishes out the quarterfinal action at 7:00 on Friday when they take their home court as the #2 seed in the west. The Cougars were 8-1 in conference on their home floor this season and are winners of three straight and seven of nine heading into tournament play. Columbus State returns to tournament action for the first time in since 2009 and hope to win their first title since 2005.
CSU will meet the #3 seed in the east, Lander. The Bearcats have experienced a remarkable turnaround from winning only three conference games last season to an 11-7 league mark and the #3 seed in the east. Lander has won six of their last seven games as they head to Columbus including Saturday's crucial 79-75 win over UNC Pembroke to secure the seed. Lander also defeated Columbus State 84-79 earlier this season.
The four winners of Friday's games will advance to the semifinal round on Saturday at 6:00 and 8:00 with the championship game on Sunday at 4:30. The winner of the PBC Tournament will get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
2012 Peach Belt Basketball Tournament
Hosted by Columbus State
Friday, March 2
#W1 Montevallo vs. #E4 UNC Pembroke 1:00
#E2 Augusta State vs. #W3 Georgia College 3:00
#E1 USC Aiken vs. #W4 Clayton State 5:00
#E3 Lander vs. #W2 Columbus State 7:00