By Chad Waller, NAIA Director of Communications & Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (Bracket; Live Stats; Live Video) Four teams remain in the 2012 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship. In the first of two semifinal games tonight, No. 1 seed Shorter (Ga.) matches up with No. 4 Concordia (Calif.) at 6 p.m. CDT, with the contest between No. 2 Oklahoma Baptist and No. 11 Mountain State (W.Va.) to follow at 8 p.m. Both games are part of the 75th Anniversary in downtown Kansas City, Mo.
The semifinal winners will meet up on Tuesday in the National Championship final for a 7:05 p.m. tip, which is televised live nationally on CBS Sports Network.
Shorter (34-2) is making its first championship trip, after holding the No. 1 ranking in the Top 25 poll for five of 12 weeks this year. The Hawks are looking to become the first team in tournament history to reach the championship final in its first appearance since Faulkner (Ala.) won the national title in its first trip in 2001. Champions of the Southern States Athletic Conference East Division, Shorter won by comfortable margins in the first and second rounds against Life (Ga.) and No. 16 Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.). In the quarterfinals, the Hawks had to gut out a 63-60 victory, coming back from 11 down with 13 minutes remaining.
Three different players have led the team in scoring in three tournament games: C.J. Davis scored 27 in the first round, Anthony Banks had 30 points and 15 boards on Friday and Walter Hill went for 18 points and nine rebounds in the quarterfinal victory over Rogers State (Okla.). Balanced scoring has been a theme all year with seven players averaging at least seven points per game.
Out of the Golden State Athletic Conference, Concordia (29-7) looks to continue its good fortune against Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) teams in the tournament. The Eagles are 3-0 all-time against the SSAC with the last victory coming in 2011 against Southern Poly (Ga.) in the first round. This year, Concordia got a scare in the first round against Oklahoma Christian, 81-74, but then coasted to wins over Montana Western, 100-85, and No. 12 LSU Shreveport (La.), 84-65. The Eagles have relied on the long ball, hitting a tournament-best 48 percent (30-of-63) of their shots.
Cameron Gliddon has pumped in 21 points per game in the tournament. He tossed in 30 points on a 7-for-10 3-point shooting effort in the win against Montana Western. Concordia is 2-1 all-time in the semifinals and looking to win its second-ever national championship, joining the 2003 team. The Eagles are playing in their 10th all-time postseason and sport a 22-8 record.
Oklahoma Baptist (31-4) is making its 10th semifinal trip and second in the last three years. The Bison survived a 68-62 victory against upset-minded Belhaven (Miss.) in the first round. They went on to defeat No. 15 Columbia (Mo.), 69-57, and No. 10 Biola (Calif.), 67-57, in the quarterfinals. Leading scorer Emmanuel Wilson (17.6 ppg) has averaged 22 points in three games in the tournament and has hit 54 percent (23-of-43) of his shots.
The Bison hold the all-time championship record in wins with a 57-21 log in 25 all-time appearances. In semifinal action, Oklahoma Baptist is 7-2 and has won three of its last four Fab Four contests. The Bison won the 1966 and 2010 national titles and are trying to become the seventh team in NAIA history to earn three-or-more first-place trophies.
Making its second-straight semifinal trip and fifth overall, Mountain State (26-8) has been perfect in this round. The Cougars are 4-0 in the Fab Four, which is part of their 27-12 championship record. Mountain State has been a constant in the tournament making an appearance in each of the last 14 events. The Cougars scored a 98-79 win over MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) in the first round and an 88-74 triumph against No. 6 Martin Methodist (Tenn.) in the second round. On March 17, Cam Miller went for 20 points and eight boards in the 83-76 win against No. 14 Georgetown (Ky.).
Miller has posted the most tournament points of any player in this year's event with 78 points and his 26.0 points per game is good for sixth among all players. Seven-footer David Nyarsuk has swatted nine blocks in three games, which is second amongst all players. He was second in Division I basketball in blocks this year with nearly 3.0 per game.
Tickets can be purchased at the Municipal Auditorium box office or by calling 800-745-3000.
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- In Fab Four action, Concordia is 2-1, Mountain State is 4-0, Oklahoma Baptist is 7-2 and Shorter is a newcomer.
- Mountain State is the only repeat Fab Four team from the 2011 semifinals.
- Shorter is looking to become the first Southern States Athletic Conference team to reach the final since Faulkner (Ala.) in 2001.
- Mountain State is 2-0 all-time in the championship against Oklahoma Baptist. The Cougars got past the Bison in the 2003 quarterfinals, 108-106 in overtime, and then won the following year in the same round, 87-84.
- Shorter is riding the longest winning streak of the Fab Four participants at 10-straight games.
- Three of the four teams have claimed at least one national championship: Oklahoma Baptist (1966 and 2010), Concordia (2003) and Mountain State (2004).
- The tournament is filled with upsets and unseeded teams advancing far. With four seeded teams reaching the Fab Four, this marks the first time since 2004 when the semifinals were made up of only seeded teams. That year, No. 1 Mountain State, No. 5 Georgetown (W.Va.), No. 6 Concordia and No. 15 Mobile (Ala.) made up the field.
- The last time three of the top four seeds made the Fab Four was 2007: No. 1 Robert Morris (Ill.), No. 2 Oklahoma City, No. 4 Concordia and unseeded Faulkner.
- This year's championship marks the 75th annual event, which distinguishes itself as the oldest national championship basketball tournament in the country, preceding any NIT or NCAA Tournament. Founded in 1937, the tournament has hailed national champions from 22 states from Maryland to Hawaii. The state of Oklahoma claims the most titles with 10 followed by Missouri with eight.
- In 75 years, the national championship has stopped in two cities, Tulsa, Okla., and Kansas City, Mo. The 2012 event is held in Kansas City for the 11th straight year and 68th time overall. From 1994-2001, the championship was held at three different arenas in Tulsa.