2021 Heart Tournament Bracket
The top seed: #2 William Penn
NAIA Locks: William Penn, Benedictine
NAIA Bubble Teams: Park
Best chances to win this tournament: William Penn, Benedictine
Possible sleeper: Baker
Kevion Blaylock – William Penn: 17.6ppg, 10.2rpg
One of the Top 5 best players in the NAIA this season. He will play ALL five positions. Blaylock could go for 40 if he needed to, but this Statesmen team is so deep that he doesn’t shot hunt very often and is a very good and willing passer.
Dennis McKinney – Mount Mercy: 14.1ppg, 3.2rpg, 3.2apg
Believe he has won the Heart Player of the Week 5x this season now. McKinney is an elite scorer and as good as he has been in his career he has taken his game to an even higher level this season. If it wasn’t for having Blaylock in the league, he probably would be the Heart Player of the Year winner!
Rodrique Marthone – Park: 19.1ppg, 6.6rpg, 4.4apg, 2.2spg
Corey Reeves was the returning All-American for Park from last season, but it’s been Marthone who has been the most impressive Pirate this season. Marthone is great off the bounce and getting to the rim. He is tough and is what you look for from a lead guard on a team looking to make a tournament run.
Kamari Newman – William Penn: 14.4ppg, 3.4rpg,
Newman last season was primarily a shooter. This year he has shown off the growth of his game by becoming a really good all-around scorer and he’s even defending other teams best players most nights.
N1 William Penn – Playing these games at home, you would think WPU is a heavy favorite, but we have already seen some upsets in Conference Tourney’s this season so anything can happen. All-Americans Kevion Blaylock and Kamari Newman are just two of MANY pieces this team throws at you. The Statesmen lead the country in assists per game at 20.7 and are 3rd in the NAIA in scoring margin at 24.5.
S1 Benedictine – They just do what they do and as the season goes along they continue to get better at what they do. This BC team is tough and knows how to win games. Jaiden Bristol makes this team go, while Matt Austin and Eric Krus lead BC in scoring.
S3 Baker – Winners of 7 straight coming into the Heart Tournament. This Baker team is the only one who has beaten both William Penn and Benedictine this season.
Quarterfinal Game Notes:
S3 Baker @ N2 Mount Mercy 4pm CT Live Video
These two teams just played last week with Baker wining in OT. A game of contrasting styles a bit, but expect another great game between these two. Baker comes in on a 7 game win streak. Mount Mercy has won 3 of it’s last 4 games with that loss being to this Baker team.
N4 Grandview @ S1 Benedictine 6pm CT Live Video
Their one game from this year was played just 3 days ago with Benedictine winning by 22 points. Grandview has shown they can score the rock at times this year and are led by Ryan Miller who is 3rd in the Heart in scoring. Benedictine just overwhelmed GV with their defense, making it hard for GV to get open looks.
S4 MidAmerica Nazarene @ N1 William Penn 7pm CT Live Video
William Penn 1-0
The Statesmen won this game by 35 earlier this year. You would expect this one to be much closer though as MNU is playing good basketball winning five straight games coming into this one. Both teams are really well coached and you expect Hall of Famer Rocky Lamar to change up the strategy a bit from last time in order to slow down the Statesmen.
N3 Clarke @ S2 Park 7pm CT Live Video
Clarke went to Park in late January and walked out of there with a 3pt win. Both teams have talented groups, but both have let some games slip away. Both teams should be juiced up in this do or die rematch game!
The Heart has (2) auto-bids plus the Host Site bid, getting 3 teams into the NAIA National Tournament. William Penn clinched the regular season title auto-bid. Benedictine will get the Tournament auto-bid if WPU or them win the Heart tourney. Host site bid is TBD.
Best Opening Round Matchup: S4 MidAmerica Nazarene @ N1 William Penn.
Our Pick To Win It: William Penn University – We have seen some upsets already around the country, but this William Penn team is deep, talented, shares the basketball and is better defensively then people may think. Plus they are at home where only one team has gotten within 20pts of them this season.
xUnfortunately, I will be watching online as I had to get back to work for a project deadline.
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