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  • Skyhawks hear its NCAAs who

    Matt Mazarei and Fort Lewis College will dive into the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in two years and their eighth in school history when the Skyhawks face Adams State on Saturday in Denver. Enlarge photo

    Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file photo

    Matt Mazarei and Fort Lewis College will dive into the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in two years and their eighth in school history when the Skyhawks face Adams State on Saturday in Denver.

    The if was settled.

    So was the where.

    The only question was who?

    On Sunday night, the Fort Lewis College men’s basketball team gathered at Cuckoo’s Chicken House to discover their seed and opponent for the first round of South Central Region play in the NCAA Tournament, set for the Auraria Event Center in Denver, home of the region’s top seed, Metro State.

    The Skyhawks (21-7) will see a familiar face for the fourth time this season when they open their eighth NCAA Tournament in school history against No. 6 seed Adams State on Saturday.

    FLC edged the Grizzlies (20-8) 70-69 in the semifinals of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Shootout on Friday in Denver. Adams State, meanwhile, won the previous two meetings this season with an 82-76 victory in Durango and a 76-68 win in Alamosa.

    “The way Division II does their NCAA Tournament is a little baffling, but it is what it is, and we’re very excited just to be in the tournament,” Skyhawks’ head coach Bob Hofman.

    Hofman said gearing up to play the Grizzlies for the fourth time will involve NBA-like adjustments. Since pro teams see each other so often, they typically make only tweaks and minor adjustments between matchups with the same team. And the Skyhawks and Grizzlies are about as familiar as they come.

    “It’s like we’re a pro team. We both will make subtle adjustments,” Hofman said. “We have as much respect for Louis (Wilson) and his team as anyone we’ve played all year long.”

    The loss at the buzzer to Metro State in Saturday’s RMAC Shootout championship game likely dropped FLC from No. 2 to No. 3 in the region despite it being a road loss by the narrowest of margins.

    The region’s No. 2 seed went to St. Mary’s, the Heartland Conference tournament champions and a team that carries the same 21-7 record as the Skyhawks. The Rattlers will play No. 7 seed Cameron for the right to meet the Adams State-FLC winner in the second round Sunday in Denver.

    Metro State will host No. 8 seed Tarleton State in the first round, with the winner set to meet either fourth-seeded Midwestern State or fifth-seeded Newman in the second round.

    The regional title game will take place Tuesday in Denver. Times for all the regional games have yet to be announced.

    “There’s eight teams in the tournament, and there’s eight teams that have a chance,” Hofman said. “I’m really proud of our team and the way they responded this year. We lost our two leading scorers from last year (Matt Morris and Matt Billups), and they’ve had a tremendous year, and this is the part you just enjoy.”

    rowens@ durangoherald.com