Liberty clinched NCAA Tournament bid in very strange circumstance
The Liberty Flames will play in the Atlantic Sun tournament final on Sunday, but the game will have no bearing on the team’s NCAA Tournament hopes. That’s because they’re already in.
Though the Flames have yet to formally clinch the automatic bid as the Atlantic Sun tournament champion, they’ll be able to play the game knowing they’re going to be in the NCAA Tournament. That’s because their opponent in the final, North Alabama, is still in the process of transitioning to Division I athletics and is ineligible to participate in the Big Dance this season.
With North Alabama ineligible, even if they were to beat Liberty in the final, the Flames would claim the automatic bid by virtue of their regular season conference title. The school’s Twitter account made light of that odd situation after North Alabama’s win in the semifinals Friday night clinched Liberty’s spot.
Can we punch our ticket early?
With UNA defeating FGCU, we have clinched the ASUN auto bid to the NCAA Tournament! pic.twitter.com/KoKRtUKnmv
— Liberty Men's Basketball (@LibertyMBB_) March 6, 2021
This makes Liberty the first team to clinch an automatic bid in the 2021 field. It also means flopping like this won’t be necessary this year to try to seize that auto bid.