By Chad Waller, NAIA Director of Communications & Sports Information
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. - (Press Book PDF) (Live Stats) (Live Video) The 22nd annual NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship will begin Wednesday with 32 teams meeting up in Point Lookout, Mo., and on the campus of College of the Ozarks. The college is hosting for the 14th-straight year, with 31 games being played and ending with the national championship final March 12 at 8 p.m. CST.
The championship tips-off with No. 9 Davenport (Mich.) (27-6) facing York (Neb.) (23-8) Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. The first three days will see eight games each; the quarterfinals are scheduled for Saturday with the semifinals to follow on March 11. All games leading up to the national championship final will be video-streamed live with the final game televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.
No. 1 seed William Penn (Iowa) will try to buck a recent trend and win the national title - something that has not been accomplished by the top seed since 2009 and done just five times in the history of the event. The Statesmen (30-1), who earned the top seed for the first time in school history, take on McPherson (Kan.) (15-17) Wednesday at 1:45 p.m.
In this year's field, No. 4 Northwestern (Iowa) stands with the most postseason wins with a 29-13 postseason record. The Red Raiders (24-6) own a 12-1 first round mark and will face Cal Maritime (24-6) Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Right behind Northwestern in the postseason win column is Bethel (Ind.). The Pilots, who are playing in their first championship since 2010, are 26-6 in this event and the only qualifier with as many as three national titles. Bethel tangles with No. 16 Embry-Riddle (Fla.) (25-8) Wednesday at Noon.
Host school Ozarks is competing in its 17th overall championship, the most all-time of any program. The Bobcats (21-12) have posted a 25-15 playoff record. They will meet up with 2012 national runner-up No. 3 Northwood (Fla.) (30-3) Wednesday at 8 p.m. The Seahawks got the best of Ozarks in the 2012 first round by a 67-50 score and have won seven of their last nine championship games.
A team to keep an eye on is No. 2 Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) (30-3). This trip is the Wolves' 10th appearance and they made it to the quarterfinals last year for the first time in school history. They will battle Jamestown (N.D.) (15-18) Thursday at Noon.
Four squads punched a ticket to their first-ever national championship: Madonna (Mich.), Rochester (Mich.), Saint Xavier (Ill.) and Valley City State (N.D.). Saint Xavier, who is in its first season as a member of Division II, had made 10 prior trips to the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship, with its last appearance coming in 2010.
Champion of the Appalachian Athletic Conference, No. 13 Tennessee Wesleyan (25-7) owns the longest overall win streak this year. The Bulldogs have not lost since Jan. 2 against NAIA Division I member Voorhees (S.C.), which is good for an 18-game win streak. William Penn is next in line with a 16-gamer, followed by Cardinal Stritch at 10 games and No. 5 Warner Pacific (Ore.) (27-6) at nine.
Last year's national champion, Oregon Tech, did not qualify for the 2013 championship. The Hustlin' Owls become the first team since Evangel (Mo.) in 2003 to not participate in the championship the year after winning it all.
Reserved seating is $15 per session and general admission is $10 per session for adults. To purchase tickets or receive more information, please call 417-335-NAIA (6242).
The Association of Independent Institutions and the Cascade Collegiate Conference each landed four programs in the championships field, which is the most among the 13 conferences/independent groups.
NeuLion is the NAIA's Digital Media Partner and official video-streaming company of 10 select NAIA National Championship events. The first 30 matches from Point Lookout, 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.
For more information on the National Championship, click here.