By Chad Waller, NAIA Director of Communications & Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (Bracket; Live Stats; CBS Sports Network coverage) No. 2 Oklahoma Baptist and No. 4 Concordia (Calif.) collide in the 75th annual Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship final. The tip is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CDT tonight and is televised live nationally on CBS Sports Network from Municipal Auditorium. The Bison (32-4), who have won two previous national championships, will be appearing in a championship-record eighth title game. Concordia (30-7), out of the Golden State Athletic Conference, has made three previous trips and won the 2003 championship.
Even with the wealth of championship experience, both clubs are meeting each other for the first time in the postseason. Besides the record of title appearances, the Bison hold the all-time standard for championship wins with a 58-21 mark in 25 playoff events. Concordia is playing in its 10th championship and is 23-8, with all of these games coming since 1999.
Oklahoma Baptist has won by an average margin of 12.5 points in four tournament games this year. The Bison defense was on display in the 77-56 semifinal win over No. 11 Mountain State (W.Va.) on Monday. They held the Cougars to nearly 30 points under their season average and forced them into a 33.3 percent shooting mark. Emmanuel Wilson (19.0 ppg) and Heath McKay (15.8 ppg) have led the team in scoring through the championship. The second-leading scorer, DeAngelo McIntosh, had to leave Monday's game in the first half with a left leg injury and did not return. He may not be available for tonight.
Both teams have had success from 3-point land. The Bison lead all tournament participants with a 46.5 accuracy clip (33-of-71) and Concordia is close behind knocking down 38-of-84 (.452) behind the arc.
Concordia's Cameron Gliddon is one of three Eagles to average double-figures in points at 20.3. He has hit on 18-of-33 (.545) from long-range in four games. He is nearing the all-time tournament record for 3-pointer's made in a single event as former Eagle Jeremy Groth nailed 21 in the 2003 tournament. Austin Simon (15.3 ppg) and Tommy Granado (12.5 ppg) bring scoring threats to the Concordia lineup. The Eagles have won two games during the championship by comfortable margins but had to squeak past Oklahoma Christian, 81-74, in the first round and then hold on, 81-67, against top-seeded Shorter (Ga.) in the semifinals.
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.
Tickets can be purchased at the Municipal Auditorium box office or by calling 800-745-3000.
- In National Championship finals action, Concordia is 1-2 while Oklahoma Baptist is 2-5.
- Since 2000, the higher seeded team in the final has gone just 4-7. The exception is when two unseeded squads met in the 2009 title game, Rocky Mountain (Mont.) and Columbia (Mo.).
- Both teams have claimed at least one national championship: Oklahoma Baptist in 1966 and 2010; Concordia in 2003.
- With Concordia being a No. 2 seed and Oklahoma Baptist locking down the four spot, this final marks the highest combined seeds (six) since No. 4 Concordia was defeated by No. 2 Oklahoma City, 79-71, in the 2007 national championship.
- Since 2003, the final has been a nail-biter with eight of those games being decided by 10 or fewer points and two going into extra periods. The average margin of victory during that stretch has been 6.3 points.
- The state of Oklahoma claims the most titles with 11 followed by Missouri with eight. With the win, Concordia would increase the total of the Golden State to three (San Diego State - 1).
- 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.
- 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.