May 1, 2012
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NCAA Tournament Bracket
AUBURN, Ala. - The Auburn Tigers will travel to Champaign, Ill., for the first and second rounds of the 2012 NCAA Men's Tennis Tournament, where they will face the Drake Bulldogs next Friday or Saturday in the tournament's opening match. The NCAA released the tournament bracket Tuesday afternoon.
Auburn (17-9) barely missed out on a host spot as it came in ranked 17th in the final Intercollegiate Tennis Association ranking. The Tigers will be the top No. 2 seed in the tournament with host Illinois seeded 16th nationally. Illinois faces Western Michigan in the other match of the opening round.
"We're happy to be in the tournament, but we're disappointed we're not hosting," Auburn head coach Eric Shore said. "We felt like we deserved to host. We were consistent all year, and we're going to have to continue to play that way when we go to Illinois.
Three conference champions will be competing in the Champaign regional. Drake (24-2) is the Missouri Valley Conference champion, winning the title with a 4-1 win over Wichita State on Sunday to earn their sixth NCAA Tournament berth and fourth in the last six years. The Bulldogs' 24 wins tied a school record.
Illinois (17-7) jumped from No. 24 to No. 16 in the final rankings after upsetting third-ranked Ohio State for the Big Ten title on Sunday. The Fighting Illini's win snapped Ohio State's 92-match Big Ten winning streak. Western Michigan (17-11) captured the Mid-American Conference championship with a 4-0 win over Buffalo on Saturday.
"I know Illinois was at our indoor qualifier, they're a very good team," Shore said. "They just beat Ohio State, who was ranked No. 3 in the country, so it's going to be tough when you play them on their home courts. And we have Drake in the first round, they're 24-2, and they've always had a good history of having a strong team. Again, we're going to go up there and prepare for Drake as best we can. We'll work hard here for the next week to 10 days and hope the weather gets hot up in Champaign."
This is Auburn's 13th consecutive NCAA Tournament bid and 18th in the last 19 years under Shore. Dates and times for Auburn's NCAA Tournament matches will be released later.