2019 NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship Preview

2019 NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship Preview

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – [Game Program – PDF | Bracket – PDF | Live StatsThe 82nd annual NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship tips off this Wednesday, March 20 inside Municipal Auditorium. The single-elimination championship begins at 9 a.m. CDT and runs through March 26. Coined college basketball’s toughest tournament, the national champion must win five games in a seven-day span.

The first 30 games of the national championship will be video-streamed live at www.NAIANetwork.com, the NAIA’s official video-streaming platform powered by Stretch Internet. The championship final will air on ESPN3 for the sixth-straight season on Tuesday, March 26 at 8:00 p.m.

The championship tips off with John Brown (Ark.) competing in the 9 a.m. matchup on Wednesday morning, facing off against Bethel (Tenn.) in the Liston Bracket. John Brown is making its 8th all-time appearance overall to begin the quest for a second national championship in program history. Bethel, who is making its second trip to the national championship will be looking for its first win in championship play. The Wildcats earned an at-large berth into the field out of the Southern States Athletic Conference and are led by Issac Edmondson who averages just over 18 points per game.

While there is not a defending national champion in the field, Georgetown (Ky.) is making its 38th trip, the most amongst the teams in the 2019 national championship. The Tigers ascended into the No. 1 overall position and will be playing with a heavy heart after the loss of their long time honorary coach, Jim Kissick of Kissick Construction. The Tigers have been one of the most impressive teams in the nation in 2019 and have won 11 of their last 12 games. 

The lone team to be making its debut at the national championship is Stillman (Ala.). In just its second year of postseason eligibility after moving from NCAA Division II, the Tigers are getting their first taste of postseason play as a No. 2-seed in the Duer Bracket. 

The Spartans of Missouri Baptist are breaking the biggest drought of any team in the field in 2019. In his fourth season, Matt Brock has taken a team that won just seven games the year prior to his arrival and transformed it into the regular season champion in the American Midwest Conference. Their last trip to Kansas City was in 2005 under head coach Tony Tompkins. Missouri Baptist won 23 games a season ago and narrowly missed the field. They enter the 2019 national championship with an overall record of 28-4 and will be looking to win their first national championship game in team history on Wednesday at 8:15 p.m. against Loyola (La.). 

Oklahoma City is looking for a record seventh red banner in 2019. The Stars turned it on down the stretch to win the Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament. After dropping a game to Mid-America Christian (Okla.), Oklahoma City ran through the Sooner tournament to enter the national championship with an overall record of 21-10

Of the teams in the 2019 field, 10 have won a national title in their history. Oklahoma City leads the way with six national championships, followed by Benedictine (Kan.) (2), Georgetown (Ky.) (2), John Brown (Ark.) (1), Loyola (La.) (1), Mid America Christian (Okla.) (1), Pikeville (Ky.) (1), Rocky Mountain (Mont.) (1), Science & Arts (Okla.) (1) and Vanguard (Calif.) (1).

For more information on the National Championship, go to NAIAHoops.com

Championship Nuggets

  • The 82nd NAIA National Championship this year continues the event’s distinction as the oldest national championship basketball tournament in the country. Founded in 1937, the tournament preceded both the National Invitation Tournament (founded in 1938), as well as the NCAA Tournament (founded in 1939), and has produced national champions from 23 states, spanning the nation from Maryland to Hawaii. This year marks the 75th time the tournament has been contested in Kansas City, including 55 years at historic Municipal Auditorium, extending the city’s long tradition of hosting outstanding championship basketball on all collegiate levels.
  • Since the national championship came back to Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium in 2002 (from Tulsa), the national champion teams have been diverse. In that time frame, five unseeded teams won the title while the No. 1 seed only took home the red banner once – Mountain State (W.Va.) in 2004. Pikeville (Ky.) was the last unseeded program in 2011 to win the national championship. Overall since 1967, there have been seven No. 1 seeds to win the national championship.
  • The last 10 national champions have been different, with Graceland taking the 2018 trophy. Six of those champions – Graceland (Ioa), Mid-America Christian (Okla.), Dalton State (Ga.), Vanguard (Calif.), Pikeville (Ky.) and Rocky Mountain (Mont.) – were winners for the first time in school history.
  • The last team to enter the championship with an undefeated season record was Columbia (Mo.) in 2013. The 33-0 Cougars ended up losing in the Quarterfinal round to LSU Shreveport (La.). Overall, two previous programs have won the championship title with a perfect record, with Oklahoma City in 1992 and Central State (Ohio) in 1965.
  • Recent NAIA Men’s Basketball Hall of Fame honorees have included legends such as Scottie Pippen (player), Terry Porter (player), Travis Grant (player), Clarence “Bevo” Francis (player), Bob Burchard (coach), Steve Jenkins (coach) and Rocky Lamar (coach).
  • Georgetown (Ky.) will be making its NAIA-record 38th National Championship appearance and NAIA-best 27th-consecutive. The Tigers hold a 68-37 playoff record, which also is the most wins of any championship program.
  • The state of Oklahoma claims the most championship titles with 11 followed by Missouri with eight. Oklahoma City University has won six national championships, the most of any institution. The Stars won consecutive titles on two occasions (1991-92 and 2007-08).
  • There have been 48 states represented in the national championship -- Alaska and Wyoming are two states not represented. In all, there have been different 576 schools (heading into 2019) that have qualified for Division I Men’s Basketball postseason action. The 2019 event welcomes newcomer Stillman.