We are over six months away from the start of the 2021-22 men’s basketball season, but that hasn’t kept ESPN’s Joe Lunardi from releasing his first NCAA Tournament projection for the 2022 Big Dance. Lunardi’s way too early projection has Liberty in the field, being projected to win a fourth straight ASUN championship and making the NCAA Tournament once again.

In his projection, Lunardi has Liberty as a 13-seed and facing 4-seed Duke with the winner advancing to play the winner of 5-seed St. Bonaventure and 12-seed Ohio.

Lunardi predicts the No. 1 seeds to be Alabama (East, Philadelphia), UCLA (South, San Antonio), Gonzaga (West, San Francisco), and Kansas (Midwest, Chicago).

Liberty finished the 2020-21 season at 23-6 overall and 11-2 in conference play. The Flames won the ASUN regular season title and the ASUN Tournament title for a third consecutive season.

The Flames will be the heavy favorite to repeat for what would be an ASUN record fourth straight time in a new look conference which will feature the additions of three teams in Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State, and Central Arkansas. Liberty returns three starters including ASUN Player of the Year and Tournament MVP Darius McGhee. The Flames will welcome three freshmen in DJ Moore, Brody Peebles, and Joseph Venzant.