By Chad Waller, NAIA Director of Communications & Sports Information
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. – (Press Book PDF) (Live Stats) (Bracket) The 24th annual NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship is ready to tip-off Wednesday as 32 teams competing in the single-elimination tournament invade Point Lookout, Mo. The event runs through March 17, on the campus of College of the Ozarks. There will be 31 games played in a span of six days with the national championship final at 6:05 p.m. CDT on March 17 and broadcast live on ESPN3.
All of the national championship action will be video-streamed live on NAIANetwork.com, the NAIA's official video-streaming platform provided by Stretch Internet. Don't miss the live HD-quality video stream of all of the action running from March 11 - 17. For more information, click here.
Defending national champion and top seed Indiana Wesleyan (31-2) punched its eighth overall championship ticket and seventh-consecutive after landing the No. 1 ranking in all 11 Coaches' Top 25 Polls this year. The Wildcats are trying to become the first No. 1 seed since Oklahoma Wesleyan in 2009 to win the title. Last year, Indiana Wesleyan was the No. 5 seed and took down No. 10 Midland (Neb.) by a 78-68 count. The Wildcats open 2015 action against Brescia (Ky.) (19-10) on Wednesday at 5:45 p.m.
Host school and No. 13 seed College of the Ozarks (25-6) tips-off against Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) (24-9) Wednesday at 8 p.m. In their 16th-straight trip, the Bobcats are 28-17 all-time in the national championship. Since 2006, College of the Ozarks has shown a home-court advantage going 7-2 in first-round games.
No. 15 Union (Ky.), champions of the Appalachian Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament, owns the longest active season winning streak at 20-straight games. The 29-4 Bulldogs have not lost since Dec. 13, 2014. They match up in the first round with newcomer Northwestern Ohio (25-7) Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. The Racers are one of four newcomers to punch their ticket, with Brescia, Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) (25-8) and St. Francis (Ill.) (23-9) being the other rookies.
The Cascade Collegiate Conference, Crossroads League and Great Plains Athletic Conference each landed four qualifiers in the championship field. The Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference and Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference each send a trio of teams to Point Lookout, Mo.
The 32-team field is comprised of 23 automatic qualifiers, one host berth awarded to College of the Ozarks, and eight at-large selections. Automatic qualification is given to conference regular-season champions, tournament champions or tournament runners-up depending on the league. At-large teams were determined using the final regular-season Coaches' Top 25 Poll released March 4.
For more information about the 32 qualifiers, click here.
For more information on the National Championship, click here