Conference: Sun Belt Conference
How They Qualified: Sun Belt Conference Tournament Champions
For the second consecutive season, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers have come out of nowhere to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Over the past two seasons, the Hilltoppers have notched just a 17-19 record within the Sun Belt Conference during the regular season, but in that span they have a combined 8-0 record in the conference tournament. That’s the definition of clicking at the right time.
Western Kentucky qualified for the Big Dance after defeating Florida International by a final score of 65-63 in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship game. Top seed Middle Tennessee State was upset in the semifinal round by FIU, helping aid the Hilltoppers’ advancement.
What You Need to Know:
Leading Scorer: T.J. Price (15.5 ppg)
Leading Rebounder: George Fant (6.6 rpg)
Leading Passer: Jamal Crook (4.1 apg)
Bad Losses: Florida Atlantic (twice), Arkansas Little-Rock (twice)
Good Wins: Florida International (twice)
Credit the job that head coach Ray Harper has done in his time at Western Kentucky. Last season, Harper took over the program on an interim basis around the midway point of the season, only to lead the Hilltoppers to the Big Dance. Well, now in his first full year as the head coach, Harper has once again guided Western Kentucky back to the NCAA Tournament.
The Hilltoppers’ appearance in the NCAA Tournament marks their fourth such trip in the past six years.
The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers are dancing!
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS