KANSAS CITY – [Schedule | Bracket] The 28th annual NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship, presented by Athletic Care, tips off tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Sanford Pentagon. The single-elimination event runs through the championship final on March 12.
The first 30 games of the national championship will be broadcast live on www.NAIANetwork.com – the NAIA’s official video platform. The championship final is distributed on ESPN3 for the sixth-straight season on March 12 at 6 p.m.
No. 2 Spring Arbor (Mich.) and No. 7 Indiana Tech – out of the Liston Bracket – open the action tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. The Cougars (25-7) are the Crossroads League regular-season champions, while the Warriors (22-11) won the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference tournament title. This is the second consecutive season that the champion of the Wolverine-Hoosier Conference Tournament will play in the opener. Michigan-Dearborn opened play in 2018.
This year’s field consists of 23 automatic berths and nine at-large spots. Automatic qualification was 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 by using the final regular-season Coaches’ Top 25 Poll.
Defending National Champion and overall No. 1-seed Indiana Wesleyan will open its 2019 championship tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. against Washington Adventist (Md.) in the Naismith Bracket. The Wildcats won the Crossroads League tournament after a 76-70 win over Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio).
Indiana Wesleyan is looking for back-to-back titles for just the second time in Division II men’s basketball history. Bethel accomplished the feat in 1997 and 1998.
There are 19 teams that will return to the championship from the 2018 field, including three of last year’s Fab Four squads – Indiana Wesleyan, IU East (Ind.) and College of Idaho.
The Gyrenes of Ave Maria and the Cougars of IU Kokomo are making their first trip to the Division II men’s basketball national championship.
The Crossroads League leads all 12 Division II conferences with five teams in the field while the Great Plains Athletic Conference is in second with four.
For more information on the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship, click here.