The Liberty Flames will play in the Atlantic Sun Championship for the third straight year on Sunday, but this time, the team knows it has clinched a spot in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament before stepping foot on the court.
Although the Flames have yet to formally clinch the automatic bid, Liberty is set to face North Alabama — a team still in the process of transitioning to Division I athletics and not eligible to participate in the tournament.
North Alabama joined the Atlantic Sun and started its move from Division II to Division I in the 2018-19 season.
NCAA rules state a Division II program making the jump to Division I cannot compete in the NCAA tournament until it has completed the four-year transition requirement, ESPN reports.
The Flames beat Stetson 77-64 in the semifinals Friday in Jacksonville, Florida, and because North Alabama is ineligible, Liberty was granted the ASUN’s automatic berth.