Berry College basketball

Berry College basketball players and fellow students react after the official announcement of the bid to play in the NCAA Div III tournament on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. (Photo by Brant Sanderlin/Berry College)

They get to go dancing.

The Vikings will open the program’s first-ever NCAA Division III tournament appearance Friday at 7:30 p.m. against No. 6 Emory University in Atlanta.

Berry earned the SAA’s automatic bid to the postseason after winning the program’s first league title this weekend as the No. 8-seed. The Vikings opened the tournament by beating top-seeded Centre 97-93 for the first time in program history before winning the championship over No. 7-seed Hendrix on Sunday.

The team’s historic run marked the first time in SAA history in any sport that the No. 8-seed advanced to face the No. 7-seed in the tournament finals.

Berry will enter the postseason 11-17 overall, the only team in the field of 64 with a sub-.500 record. The Vikings are, however, peaking when it counts, winning four straight and averaging better than 93 points per game during the SAA tournament.

Senior forward Caleb Johnson, who set a school record with 45 points in the tournament championship game, was also named U.S. Basketball Writers Association Division III National Player of the Week on Tuesday.

Emory concluded the regular season with an overall record of 21-4 and finished second in the University Athletic Association with a 12-2 ledger, the second-highest win total in school history for league play.

The Eagles have won their last five outings and are coming off a 71-61 triumph at Rochester on Saturday. This year marks the sixth straight and seventh overall trip to the postseason for the Emory program.

This is the first time since 1992 that the Vikings have advanced to the national tournament, with their last appearance coming during Berry’s NAIA membership.