New Orleans -- The NAIA Division I Basketball brackets were released Wednesday, with 4 teams from New Orleans making the field. In addition to the Xavier men receiving an at-large bid and the Loyola women advancing with an automatic bid after winning the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament, Dillard University has both of their teams competing in the national tournament as well.
This is the first time the Bleu Devils men's and women's basketball teams are headed to the NAIA Tournament in the same season, and also the first time they both won the regular season and conference tournament titles. The two programs received automatic bids as the GCAC Tournament champs.
"I think it's awesome," said Dillard junior guard Adriiana Jackson. "I think it's a great support system. The women's team and the men's team, we both go hard for each other, cheer for each other. I believe that's what drives us and helps us and that's helped us throughout the year to get to where we are together."
The Lady Bleu Devils, who are in the tournament for the first time since 2004, earned the 5-seed and will face 4th-seeded Montana Western in their first round game.
"It means everything to us," Jackson said. "We've been setting goals since last year and even this year. Before the season and pre-season we just set goals as a family to just be able to come together and get to where we are today."
"I think it means a lot for the program," said Dillard Women's Head Basketball Coach Norbert Rome. "It puts us on a national level. That was one of the charges I received early-on from my athletic director. She wanted us to bring the program back to the national level. We worked together to accomplish that this year."
"Under the leadership of Dr. Barnes," said Dillard Men's Basketball Head Coach Mike Newell, "Coach Rome has done a great job and I know he's excited. It's his first 20 win season and his first time going."
As for the Dillard men, they are making their third-straight appearance in the NAIA Tournament as the three-time defending GCAC Tournament champs. But just getting there is no longer where they've set the bar.
"This year we're planning to win it all," said Dillard senior guard Kristopher Allmon. "I don't think we've ever been past the second round so this year we're just planning to take it on."
The Bleu Devils are the 5-seed and will take-on 4th-seeded Westmont out of California in their first round game.
"We had some missing parts to the puzzle," Newell said, in reference to early-season injuries. "Once we got the parts all together, we were just hoping it wasn't going to be too late. We got on a roll and started playing and started being better defensively and playing together as a team, playing unselfish and now we're a pretty good basketball team."
Both tournaments are comprised of 32 teams in 4 different brackets, with action tipping-off Wednesday, March 14. The men's tournament is played in Kansas City, Missouri and the women's tournament is in Billings, Montana.
Here's a look at all four New Orleans teams' first round games:
NAIA Div. I Men's Basketball Tournament
Wed. March 14, 3:00 p.m. (CT): No. 7 Xavier (La.) vs. No. 2 Oklahoma City
Wed. March 14, 10:00 p.m. (CT): No. 5 Dillard vs. No. 4 Westmont (California)
NAIA Div. I Women's Basketball Tournament
Wed. March 14, 2:45 p.m. (CT): No. 5 Dillard vs. No. 4 Montana Western
Thurs. March 15, 10:00 a.m. (CT): No. 5 Loyola (La.) vs. No. 4 Our Lady of the Lake (Texas)