By Chad Waller, Director of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially announced the 32-team field for the 77th annual Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship. The event will take place from March 19 - 25 and be held for the 50th time overall and 13th-straight year at Municipal Auditorium in downtown Kansas City, Mo. Nineteen programs are back after competing in the 2013 national championship. For tickets as low as $3 per person, go to NAIAHoops.com.
The official championship bracket will be announced live via a selection show at 8 p.m. CST today. Click here to view the free live video-stream.
The 32-team field is comprised of 17 automatic qualifiers, one host berth awarded to Culver-Stockton (Mo.), and 14 at-large selections. Automatic qualification is given to conference regular-season champions, regular-season runners-up, 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 earlier today.
Defending national champion Georgetown (Ky.) earns an automatic berth as the Mid-South Conference Tournament runners-up. The Tigers (22-10) are appearing in their 33rd national championship overall and 23rd-straight, both of which are all-time records. Georgetown carries a 59-30 postseason record into this year's event -- those wins are tied for the most in the championship along with Oklahoma Baptist (59-23).
In addition to Georgetown and Oklahoma Baptist (27th appearance), seven other qualifiers will be playing in their 10th-or-more postseason.
There is one newcomer in this year's field -- Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.). The Lynx are in their first eligible season of NAIA basketball and earned the No. 14 at-large spot. Overall, there are 10 programs making just their second appearance. In addition, seven other teams will be playing in this event for the fifth time-or-less.
Benedictine (Kan.), out of the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC), snaps the longest drought of any 2014 qualifier. The Ravens lost to Central Washington, 77-65, in the first round of the 1970 event when they were called St. Benedict's College. Benedictine is joined in the national championship by Culver-Stockton (Mo.), Evangel (Mo.) and MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) from the HAAC.
The HAAC, Mid-South Conference and Sooner Athletic Conference each landed four qualifiers in the championship field. Six other conferences are sending three programs each, while the American Midwest Conference has a pair heading to Kansas City.
Life (Ga.) is part of a group of six teams in this year's field with at least one previous national championship title -- the Running Eagles own three rings. Benedictine, Georgetown and Oklahoma Baptist each have boasted a pair of national championships.
NeuLion, the NAIA’s official video-streaming company of 17 select NAIA national championship events, will be broadcasting the first 30 games of the Division II Men's Basketball National Championship. Don't miss the live video stream of all of the action running from March 12 - 18. For more information and to pre-register, click here.
For information on the 2014 NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship, click here.
2014 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship Qualifiers
|School||Qualification||Record^||Champs. Record||Apps.*||Last Time||Titles|
|Arizona Christian||At-Large No. 2||23-7||0-1||2nd||2013||0|
|Belhaven (Miss.)||Southern States Athletic Tournament Third-Place Champion||18-14||1-3||4th||2012||0|
|Benedictine (Kan.)||Heart of America Athletic Regular-Season Champion||22-8||13-5||8th||1970||2|
|Cal State San Marcos||Association of Independent Institutions Tournament Champion||30-1||0-1||2nd||2013||0|
|Columbia (Mo.)||American Midwest Regular-Season Champion||31-2||10-17||18th||2013||0|
|Culver-Stockton (Mo.)||Host Berth||23-7||5-6||7th||2013||0|
|Cumberlands (Ky.)||At-Large No. 8||19-11||13-21||22nd||2012||0|
|Emmanuel (Ga.)||Southern State Athletic Regular-Season Champion (East Division)||29-3||0-3||4th||2013||0|
|Evangel (Mo.)||At-Large No. 10||23-10||3-4||5th||2013||0|
|Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.)||American Midwest Regular-Season Runner-Up||27-5||0-3||4th||2011||0|
|Georgetown (Ky.)||Mid-South Tournament Runner-Up||22-10||59-30||33rd||2013||2|
|Hope International (Calif.)||At-Large No. 6||22-10||1-1||2nd||2013||0|
|Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.)||At-Large No. 14||22-8||0-0||1st||--||0|
|Life (Ga.)||At-Large No. 11||19-14||22-11||15th||2013||3|
|LSU Shreveport (La.)||Red River Athletic Regular-Season Champion||21-8||8-9||10th||2013||0|
|MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)||Heart of America Athletic Tournament Champion||23-10||5-3||4th||2013||0|
|Montana State-Northern||At-Large No. 7||23-8||3-7||8th||2013||0|
|Oklahoma Baptist||Sooner Athletic Tournament Champion||19-15||59-23||27th||2013||2|
|Philander Smith (Ark.)||At-Large No. 13||20-11||0-1||2nd||2013||0|
|Pikeville (Ky.)||Mid-South Regular-Season Champion||30-2||8-6||8th||2013||1|
|Rocky Mountain (Mont.)||Frontier Tournament Champion||23-7||5-6||8th||2013||1|
|St. Catharine (Ky.)||At-Large No. 12||18-12||0-1||2nd||2011||0|
|St. Gregory's (Okla.)||At-Large No. 3||21-9||0-1||2nd||2000||0|
|St. Thomas (Texas)||At-Large No. 9||20-10||0-1||2nd||2013||0|
|SAGU (Texas)||Sooner Athletic Regular-Season Champion||26-5||4-2||3rd||2013||0|
|Talladega (Ala.)||Gulf Coast Athletic Tournament Champion||28-5||0-1||2nd||1996||0|
|Vanguard (Calif.)||Golden State Athletic Tournament Champion||27-6||0-1||2nd||2006||0|
|Wayland Baptist (Texas)||At-Large No. 4||23-10||9-14||15th||2008||0|
|Westminster (Utah)||At-Large No. 5||19-12||4-11||12th||2010||0|
|Wiley (Texas)||Red River Athletic Tournament Champion||25-6||1-2||3rd||2007||0|
|William Carey (Miss.)||Southern State Athletic Regular-Season Champion (West Division)||27-2||1-8||9th||2013||0|
|Xavier (La.)||At-Large No. 1||23-8||4-14||15th||2013||0|
* championship appearances, including 2014 event