It's official: LSU basketball is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009.
After a 22-10 season (11-7 in the SEC), the Tigers are going dancing and we just found out when and where. LSU is an 9 seed in the East region and a surprise one at that. The Tigers open the tournament on Thursday against eighth-seeded North Carolina State. The almost-certain potential 2nd-round opponent would be No. 1 seed (and No. 2 overall) Villanova playing just a few hours down the road in its home state. The 5 seed in LSU's region is Northern Iowa, champs of the Missouri Valley Conference, who will face Mountain West champion and 12-seeded Wyoming. Opposite that matchup is No. 4 seed Louisville, who could face tough sledding in its opening game against No. 13 seed UC-Irvine and 7-foot-6 center Mamadou N'Diaye.
It's an intriguing first-round matchup with the Wolfpack, a similarly enigmatic team to LSU. Plus Turner spent two years in Baton Rouge before transferring, so he'll have some extra juice for the Tigers. Overall, it's not an overly easy draw, since Villanova is plenty capable of shooting the Tigers out of the gym in a potential 2nd-round game. But LSU has played up to its competition this year, so nothing would surprise me here.
Here's what the top half of the draw looks like:
And here's the bottom half of the East Region, which LSU wouldn't even have to think about until the... uh, Elite 8.
We'll have much more on NC State, LSU's team reaction and more on the site. Stay tuned.