2017 Wooden Legacy participant Saint Mary’s nets NCAA berth

Saint Mary’s will carry the Wooden Legacy banner into the next stage of the collegiate basketball post-season as the Gaels netted their first NCAA berth since 2013 where the school will be seeded seventh in the West Regional and will play Atlantic 10 runner-up VCU in the second-round Thursday in Salt Lake City.

The 2017 Wooden Legacy will be played at two sites in southern California November 23, 24, and 26. Cal State Fullerton will host the first two days of the 2017 Wooden Legacy on its campus at Titan Gym November 23 and 24. The placement games will be played November 26 at Honda Center in Anaheim.

Ranked among the nation’s top 25 teams for most of the 2016-2017 season, Saint Mary’s posted a 28-4 record this season after winning two of three games in the West Coast Conference championships where Saint Mary’s dropped the finale to Gonzaga 74-56.

The Gaels will be competing for the ninth time in the NCAA Championships where Saint Mary’s has won four of two games, including a 2013 win over Middle Tennessee 67-54. The Gaels reached the “Sweet 16” in 2010 as Coach Randy Bennett has guided Saint Mary’s to the NCAA Championships five times.

Jock Landale, a finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award after being named to the all-league and district teams, leads Saint Mary’s as the 6-11 junior from Victoria, Australia, enters the postseason averaging 16.8 points per game (5th in the WCC), 9.3 rebounds (1st WCC, 38th NCAA), 1.2 blocks (6th WCC) and 15 double-doubles (21st NCAA).

Cal State Fullerton (Big West Conference, 17-14) and Georgia (Southeastern, 19-14), two other schools in the 2017 Wooden Legacy will be participating in the CollegeInsider.com and NIT tournament, respectively.

After finishing the regular season with its most wins since 2012, the Cal State Fullerton will host Big Sky runner-up Weber State in the “Riley Wallace Classic: Thursday at Titan Gym. The game will serve as the opening round for the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.

Georgia was awarded a No. 2 seed in the NIT and will host Belmont Wednesday. the Bulldogs are one win shy of the Bulldogs’ fourth-straight 20-win campaign. The Bulldogs were 9-9 in the SEC while playing home-and-home series with three NCAA Tournament teams (Kentucky, Florida and South Carolina) and an additional NIT participant (Alabama).

DePaul (Big East, 9-23), Harvard (Ivy League, 18-10), Saint Joseph’s (Atlantic 10, 11-20), San Diego State (Mountain West, 19-14) and Washington State (Pac-12 Conference, 13-18) will also compete in the 2017 Wooden Legacy.

Cal State Fullerton (2008 and 2013) and Saint Mary’s (2008 and 2012) will be making their third appearances each in the Wooden Legacy. DePaul (2010) and Washington State (2011) return for the second-time as is San Diego State, which captured the 2013 Wooden Legacy title. The Aztecs defeated College of Charleston and Creighton at Titan Gym before posting a 67-59 win over Marquette in the finale at Honda Center.

UCLA (29-4), Dayton (24-7) and Virginia Tech (22-10), 2016 Wooden Legacy participants, also earned spots in the 2017 NCAA Championships, The Bruins defeated Portland (99-77), Nebraska (82-71) and Texas A&M (74-67) to win the 2016 Wooden Legacy crown. Dayton (24-7) lost to Nebraska (80-70) in the Wooden before rebounding with wins over Portland (84-74) and New Mexico (64-57). Other schools in the 2016 event were CSUN and Virginia Tech.

A third-place finisher in the Pac-12 tournament after losing to eventual champions Arizona in the semi-finals, UCLA is seeded third in the South Regional and will play Kent State in the Sacramento Friday. Dayton is seeded seventh in the South Region and will be play Wichita State in Indianapolis Friday.  Virginia Tech is seeded ninth in the East Region and will face the Wisconsin Thursday in Buffalo.  The Hokies will be making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2007.