Richard R. Barron/The Ada NewsEast Central men’s basketball head coach Ja Havens reacts to a play while assistant coach Aaron Hill watches from behind earlier this season. The Tigers are ranked No. 4 in the latest NCAA DII Central Regional rankings.

The East Central University men’s basketball team has been selected as the No. 4 team in the first NCAA Central Regional poll released on Wednesday.

The Tigers (17-6) are one of three teams from the Great American Conference to earn a spot in the poll. The top eight teams, including those who win automatic bids, will advance to the NCAA tournament in March.

Northwest Missouri State, from the MIAA, earned the top spot in the first poll with a 20-0 overall record. Arkansas-Monticello comes in as No. 2 (16-2) and Southwest Minnesota State, from the NSIC, is third (20-5).

MSU Moorehead (NSIC) is fifth, Arkansas Tech sixth, Upper Iowa (NSIC) seventh, Augustana (NSIC) eighth, Northern State (NSIC) ninth and Central Missouri (MIAA) 10th.

The Tigers return home Saturday, when Southern Nazarene visits for a 3 p.m. Great American Conference game inside the Kerr Activities Center.

Jeff Cali has been covering sports in the Ada area since the mid-90s. He graduated from Byng High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University.