BANGOR, Maine — The Husson University men’s basketball team is headed for New York.
The Eagles from Bangor, who on Saturday won the North Atlantic Conference title, have been matched up with Plattsburgh State in the first round of the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship.
The teams play Saturday at 7 p.m. in Memorial Hall.
“It’s a special opportunity every time you take a group of young people and have them see everything come together at the pinnacle level and win a championship,” said 19th-year Husson coach Warren Caruso.
The pairings for the 62-team tournament were announced Monday afternoon on NCAAsports.com.
The Eagles (20-8), who defeated Castleton State 74-68 in Saturday’s NAC championship game at Farmington, are among 42 teams nationwide to earn conference automatic bids. The remainder of the field is made up of 20 at-large selections.
Plattsburgh State (19-8) was an at-large selection after losing to Cortland State 75-61 in the championship game of the State Universities of New York Athletic Conference. It is making its seventh NCAA trip and its first in three years.
“The state of New York conference is very deep and talented,” said Caruso, whose team has taken on the likes of fourth-ranked Worcester Polytechnic Institute, No. 9 Catholic and tourney participant Delaware Valley.
“We know what a nationally-ranked team looks like,” he added.
The Husson-Plattsburgh winner earns a trip to Amherst (Mass.), which received a bye, for a March 9 second-round contest.
Husson is making its ninth NCAA postseason appearance in 19 seasons. The Eagles, who compiled a 14-4 NAC record to finish second in the regular-season standings, have won five in a row and seven of their last eight contests.
Husson also appeared in the NCAAs after winning league championships in 2009 and 2011.
The Eagles are spearheaded by a group of seniors that includes Eric Modica of Kittery, Marc Zaharchuk of Richmond, Brooks Spaulding of Fairfield, Wes Murphy, Phil Leighton of Naples and Jon Klages of Freeport.
Modica was the NAC Defensive Player of the Year and joined Zaharchuk, who scored his 1,000th career point Saturday, as an All-NAC second-team pick.
On the women’s side, the University of Southern Maine of Gorham and the University of New England of Biddeford, each of which captured its conference championship, also have qualified for the NCAA tournament.
The women’s field is made up of 64 teams of which 44 are automatic qualifiers and 20 are at-large selections.
Coach Gary Fifield’s USM ballclub is 27-1, having won its 20th Little East Conference championship to gain its 24th NCAA appearance.
The Huskies play host to Smith College of Boston on Friday evening at Hill Gymnasium in Gorham. The 22-4 Pioneers claimed an at-large bid as the runners-up in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference and will make the program’s first trip to the NCAAs.
The winner advances to Saturday’s second-round contest against the winner of Friday’s Ithaca vs. Colby-Sawyer matchup.
The USM roster includes freshman guard Jenna Moore of Gardiner.
The University of New England has earned its third NCAA berth after winning the Commonwealth Coast Conference championship on Saturday. Coach Anthony Ewing’s Nor’easters (24-4) take on Bridgewater State (23-3), which won the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference title.
The teams square off Friday at 5 p.m. at Amherst College, with the winner slated to take on the survivor of the game between the host Lord Jeffs and Farmingdale State.
UNE has among its members freshman guard Alanna Vose of Cushing, who starred at Medomak Valley of Waldoboro, and sophomore forward Whitney Moore of Hampden.