Carel, SPU score No. 8 seed, play Friday

Perennial playoff participant Seattle Pacific University starts this season's postseason journey against a familiar foe.

The Falcons, who pull Enumclaw High graduate Riley Carel off the bench, drew the No. 8 seed in the West Region and will compete in their seventh straight NCAA Division II men’s basketball tournament beginning with Friday's first-round matchup at 8 p.m. against top-seeded Central Washington.

The 64-team field was announced Sunday night and the SPU men (19-9) are one of eight teams vying for the West Region title, joining regional host Central Washington (26-3) along with Alaska Anchorage, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Humboldt State, Dixie State, Chaminade and BYU-Hawaii.

The Falcons’ first-round playoff game features a clash of the last two Great Northwest Athletic Conference champions. SPU was victorious in 2010 and the Central Washington won both the regular-season crown and the inaugural GNAC Tournament title this season.

The Wildcats won both regular-season meetings, defeating SPU 72-68 on Jan. 13 in Seattle and 63-53 on Feb. 9 in Ellensburg. The Falcons won just twice in their last 11 meetings with Central and lost in their last five visits to Ellensburg, where they have not won since 2006.

The SPU-CWU winner plays against the victor of Friday’s 5:30 p.m. game between No. 4 seed Dixie State (20-6) and No. 5 Chaminade (20-8). That West Region semifinal is slated for Saturday, Mar. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

The regional championship game is slated for Monday at 7 p.m. All three opening rounds will be played in Ellensburg.

The West region winner advances to the Elite Eight, set for March 23, 24 and 26 in Springfield, Mass.

Tickets for the West Regional will be available online through Wildcat Tickets at beginning at noon PST on Tuesday, Mar. 8. Single-session prices are $14 for reserved, $12 for general admission, and $6 for students. All-session tournament tickets in the reserved sections will be also available for $35.

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