By Chad Waller, NAIA Director of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially released the field of 32 teams for the 76th Annual Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship. Held in Kansas City, Mo., since 2002, the event will take place at historic Municipal Auditorium. There are 31 games scheduled from March 13 - 19 in single-elimination format. The official 32-team bracket will be announced via a graphical selection show at 7:30 p.m. CST on NAIA.org.
The field is comprised of 17 automatic berths and 15 at-large selections, which were determined using the final regular-season Coaches' Top 25 Poll released earlier today.
No. 1-ranked and undefeated Columbia (Mo.) (33-0) played their way in after bringing home the American Midwest Conference Tournament Championship. The Cougars are the only team in NAIA and NCAA levels of men's basketball to have a perfect record. Columbia is one of 11 programs to be making its 10th-or-better trip with its 17th overall.
Defending national champion Concordia (Calif.) snuck into the field by virtue of winning the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament Championship. Out of the Coaches' Top 25 poll for seven-straight weeks, the Eagles won their final six games of the regular season to earn the automatic berth.
Amongst this year's qualifiers, Concordia joins a list of nine other teams with one national championship banner hanging from the rafters. The Eagles have won two titles, trailing Oklahoma City with six rings, Life (Ga.) with three and tied with Oklahoma Baptist with two. Oklahoma City holds the most all-time national championships in the 76-year history.
The Bison of Oklahoma Baptist hold the distinction of the most championship victories with a 58-22 record. Out of the Sooner Athletic Conference, Oklahoma Baptist has made 26 trips, including the last 13 events.
Georgetown (Ky.), who earned the No. 7 at-large berth, is 54-30 in championship action and punched its ticket to a championship-record 32nd postseason and 22nd-straight appearance.
Six newcomers will be making their first trip to Kansas City: Arizona Christian, Cal State San Marcos, Hope International (Calif.), Philander Smith (Ark.), SAGU (Texas) and St. Thomas (Texas).
Four conferences claimed the most teams with four among the 11 conferences or unaffiliated group: Frontier Conference, Golden State Athletic Conference, Sooner Athletic Conference and Southern States Athletic Conference.
NeuLion is the NAIA's Digital Media Partner and official video-streaming company of 12 select NAIA National Championship events. The first 28 games from Kansas City, Mo., will be available via live video stream for $29.95 and any single day can be purchased for $9.95. Also, one can purchase the all-tournament package of all four basketball tournaments for $49.95. For more information and to pre-register, click here.
The semifinals will be broadcast live on ESPN3 at 6 p.m. CST and 8 p.m. on March 18 and the championship final will be televised live on CBS Sports Network at 7:30 p.m. on March 19.
|School||Qualification||Record^||Appearances||Last Time||Champs. Record|
|Arizona Christian||At-Large No. 12||20-9||1st||--||0-0|
|Cal State San Marcos||At-Large No. 4||23-6||1st||--||0-0|
|Columbia (Mo.)||American Midwest Conference Tournament Champion||33-0||17th||2012||8-16|
|Concordia (Calif.)||Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||22-10||11th||2012||23-9|
|Culver-Stockton (Mo.)||Heart of America Athletic Conference Regular-Season Runner-Up||24-8||6th||1959||3-5|
|Emmanuel (Ga.)||At-Large No. 9||28-4||3rd||2011||0-2|
|Evangel (Mo.)||Heart of America Athletic Conference Regular-Season Champion||25-6||4th||2012||2-3|
|Faulkner (Ala.)||Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||28-5||8th||2007||10-7|
|Georgetown (Ky.)||At-Large No. 7||23-8||32nd||2012||54-30|
|Hope International (Calif.)||At-Large No. 11||25-7||1st||--||0-0|
|John Brown (Ark.)||At-Large No. 2||27-6||7th||2012||9-5|
|Lee (Tenn.)||At-Large No. 1||29-3||10th||2012||8-9|
|Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||At-Large No. 3||26-5||9th||2008||2-8|
|Life (Ga.)||TranSouth Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||19-12||14th||2012||22-10|
|Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||Mid-South Conference Tournament Champion||29-4||11th||2012||6-10|
|LSU Shreveport (La.)||At-Large No. 15||24-6||9th||2012||5-8|
|Martin Methodist (Tenn.)||At-Large No. 13||20-10||8th||2012||6-7|
|MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)||At-Large No. 17||24-9||3rd||2012||3-2|
|Montana State-Northern||At-Large No. 14||23-9||7th||2012||3-6|
|Montana Western||At-Large No. 8||22-9||11th||2012||4-10|
|Oklahoma Baptist||At-Large No. 5||24-7||26th||2012||58-22|
|Oklahoma City||Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||17-10||20th||2010||47-13|
|Philander Smith (Ark.)||Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||25-7||1st||--||0-0|
|Pikeville (Ky.)||Mid-South Conference Tournament Runner-Up||26-6||7th||2011||8-5|
|Rocky Mountain (Mont.)||Frontier Conference Tournament Champion||21-12||7th||2009||5-5|
|Science & Arts (Okla.)||At-Large 16||17-9||6th||2009||10-4|
|SAGU (Texas)||Red River Athletic Conference Regular-Season Champion||29-4||2nd||2006||0-0|
|St. Thomas (Texas)||Red River Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||28-5||1st||--||0-0|
|Voorhees (S.C.)||Unaffiliated Group (A.I.I. / Chicagoland) Tournament Champion||22-11||6th||2006||1-5|
|Westmont (Calif.)||At-Large No. 6||25-7||15th||2007||16-16|
|William Carey (Miss.)||Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament Runner-Up||25-5||8th||1989||1-7|
|Xavier (La.)||At-Large No. 10||24-7||14th||2012||4-13|