It’s official. The defending NJCAA national champions are back in the NJCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship.

Hutchinson Community College can now rest easy as the Blue Dragons earned one of eight at-large bids for the tournament. After losing the Region 6 tournament championship – to a very good Coffeyville squad – March 7 in Park City, the team had to wait all the way until Monday to find out if they were going to get one of the remaining at-large bids.

However, the Blue Dragons don’t get much time relax, as the first games will start first thing next week. The Blue Dragons earned the No. 11 seed in the tournament this year. They will play their opening-round game on Tuesday, game time is set for noon. Hutchinson will take on the Region 10 champions from North Carolina, Cape Fear Community College.

Of course, the Hutchinson Sports Arena will be the stage of the action. The Blue Dragons will be making their 21st appearence in the NJCAA Tournament, including their fourth straight, which is a record for Hutchinson.

Out of coach Steve Eck’s nine seasons, this is his fifth time he’ll enter the tournament. Last year, the Blue Dragons received an at-large bid after losing the Region 6 championship, and the end result was a national championship.

Hutchinson is 48-25 overall in NJCAA Tournament games. The Blue Dragons also played in 10 semifinals and six championship games, winning the title in 1988, 1994, and 2017

Lucas Barlow

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