What a great opening round we have already seen in the NAIA Men’s National Championships. As promised, we saw buzzer beaters, upsets and big time performances. It truly was a fun day of watching games. We will be in for another big day today with some really awesome matchups!

Top Highlights of the Opening Round

  • The Top 4 seeds in every Quadrant advanced to the Round of 32.
  • Only two Top 6 seeds (Hope International and Georgetown) didn’t advance on.
  • The host sites that were on campus locations went a staggering 11-1 on the day. Southeastern (FL) is the only team that lost at home.
  • The Crossroads League had the most wins amongst conferences as they went 5-1 in the opening round. Although the SSAC was a perfect 4-0 themselves.
  • Northwestern (IA) All-American, Alex Van Kalsbeek, scored the most points in the opening round with 45. However, it wasn’t enough as NWC lost to Saint Francis (IN) 91-85.
  • The Loyola dynamic duo were at it again last night as both just missed triple-doubles. Myles Burns goes for 31pts, 10steals and 8rebs. Zach Wrightsil had 26pts, 12rebs, 9assts.

The Bracket

Naismith Quadrant

Opening Round Scores

Round of 32 Schedule

5pm CT – #1 Loyola vs #9 Florida CollegeWatch Live

Florida College held Evangel to just 2 of 26 from 3 and Phat Cleveland hit a game winner to help FC advance to the Round of 32. They will face off against a Loyola team, who just keep rolling to impressive wins. This game will feature the 2nd (Loyola) and 3rd (Florida College) fastest paced teams in the tournament field. As crazy as it sounds, FC will have to try to find a way to “slow down” this high powered Loyola team if they want to pull off this upset. FC didn’t have Chinedu Okonkwo yesterday, they will need his rebounding today if they are going to compete. We will see if he makes it back.

5pm CT – #4 Faulkner vs #12 HuntingtonWatch Live

By seeding purposes only, Huntington was able to pull off the “upset” of Georgetown yesterday. The win was the first tournament win since the 05-06 season for Huntington! They will play a true road game today against Faulkner. Faulkner is led by CJ Hines and Jalon Perry. The electric scoring guards combined for 42 of Faulkner’s 77pts last night in the win. Faulkner is going to have to slow down Caleb Middlesworth and Zach Goodline though if they want to avoid the upset tonight!

5pm CT#2 Olivet Nazarene vs # 7 GraceWatch Live

Both of these teams had to sweat out wins yesterday, but this is the time of survive and advance and all that matters at the end of the day is that you scored at least 1 more point then your opponent did. There is plenty of talent on the floor in this one, but it is hard to not get excited to watch the big boy battle between Alex Gross (ONU) and Elijah Malone (Grace). These are two teams with similar pace, great scoring wings and then two of the best big men in the NAIA!

8pm CT – #3 College of Idaho vs #6 Ottawa (AZ)Watch Live $

College of Idaho kept their steam engine rolling with a blowout win of Vanguard. They will face another GSAC foe tonight in Ottawa as OUAZ got a nice win over UT Southern yesterday. OUAZ is going to have to try and solve the riddle that is known as the Yote defense. The Yote zone is tough to beat and score on and especially at home, it makes it tough on opponents to come in and beat them. That is what OUAZ is tasked with later tonight. They are coming off their programs 1st post season win and now face one of the best defenses in the NAIA in a true road game.

Cramer Quadrant

Opening Round Scores

Round of 32 Schedule

5pm CT – #2 Indiana Wesleyan vs #10 Indiana TechWatch Live $

An in-state matchup between two tough teams. Tech lost in this game last year to a good Marian team and will be looking to get over the hump this year and head to Kansas City. To do so, they will have to beat IWU inside Luckey Arena. This will be the third meeting this season between the two. With IWU winning both of the regular season matchups with the 2nd one being a 20pt blow out at Tech. The CL Player of the Year Seth Maxwell makes it difficult inside for Josh Kline and Rog Stein to get clean looks at the rim, so Tech is going to need Grant Smith and the shooters on the outside to hit shots! These are two teams who play contrasting styles of play, so look for IWU to push the pace and try to make Tech uncomfortable.

6pm CT – #1 Arizona Christian vs #9 XavierWatch Live

The good news for Arizona Christian is that with the Xavier win last night, ACU doesn’t have to face a true road game today. Angelo Johnson and this Firestorm team have been so good this season though and even with this stingy XULA defense that ranks inside the Top 2 in both DPPG and DFG%, ACU has a ton of weapons for XULA to try and stop on a short scout. XULA HC, Alfred Williams, is a really good coach though and he will counter with All-American guard, Makye Richard. We will set this game at 75 total points. If Arizona Christian can get to 75 points they will win this one. If XULA holds them to under 75, they will have a great shot at the upset here.

6pm CT – #4 Saint Francis (IN) vs #5 Bethel (KS)Watch Live $

If you can’t get excited about this game then we can’t help you. Three of the more elite players in the NAIA in the KCAC POY winner, Jaylon Scott going head to head with Antwaan Cushingberry and David Ejah of USF. You can expect power punch after power punch in this battle! Both of these teams made it to Kansas City last year, and while just 1 will make it this year, these are two really fun, well coached teams, that are a lot of fun to watch!

7pm CT – #3 William Jessup vs #11 Oregon TechWatch Live $

Oregon Tech prevented a round four between HIU and Jessup, but we do get Round 3 between OIT and Jessup! Jessup won each of the previous two meetings so you know OIT will be eager to return the favor on the big stage. As we stated a few times with OIT, this is a veteran group who has also played 3 games on Jessup’s court now. They were a preseason Top 25 team and can win this game. Jessup is at home, and did get Myles Corey back off injury. Two teams that play up-tempo so expect a relatively high scoring game.

Duer Quadrant

Opening Round Scores

Round of 32 Schedule

4pm CT – #1 William Penn vs #8 IU KokomoWatch Live

This game features the William Penn, who holds the nations longest win streak at 20 games vs IU Kokomo who has the nations 3rd longest win streak at 18 games. WPU didn’t look sharp in the opening round, but they advanced, and that is the name of the game. IU Kokomo looked ready to go against Dordt last night. They got up big in each half, before letting Dordt get back in the game twice. They are undersized, but scrap defensively. Both teams have multiple 5th year guys who came back to win titles. They both won their league regular season and tournament titles. They both have their league Player of the Year, Kevion Blaylock (WPU) and Desean Hampton (IUK). They both have scrappy guards and shooters on the perimeter. This has the makings of the game of the day and it’s the first one to tip off!

5pm CT – #2 Talladega vs #7 CumberlandWatch Live $

Dega was finally able to get some breathing room late in the game yesterday against 15-seed Washington Adventist. They will need to play better today as this Cumberland team is tough, gritty and have the talent to matchup with Talladega. Dega is at home though and you do expect them to play better today. Darryl Baker was Darryl Baker yesterday with 21pts. Cam Potts struggled from the field, but went 10-10 from the FT to give him 16pts. This is a Top 2 defense in the NAIA, so you expect them to create issues for Tavon King and Cumberland, but the Phoenix have been tough all year long and are playing great basketball. They won’t back down in this game today.

7:30pm CT – #4 Marian vs #5 ConcordiaWatch Live $

Another 4/5 matchup on today’s docket! This one will be an interesting one as both teams come into this one playing great basketball. Marian did fend off a tough Freed-Hardeman team yesterday and CUNE is a tough 1-day scout. However, this Marian team has been there before and they face good offenses all year long. Christian Stewart has been elite for the Knights and he is a guy who can give CUNE some fits. Lots of shooting and lots of intriguing matchups in this one. Going to be interesting to see some of the in-game adjustments as both of these teams feel each other out.

8pm CT – #3 Carroll vs #6 JamestownWatch Live

The bad news is that the announcers last night mentioned that the Frontier Player of the Year, Jovan Sljivancanin, is injured and could potentially be out for the entire tourney. Carroll, however, looked pretty good yesterday despite it, led by fellow All-American, Shamrock Campbell. This would have been a fun game to see two National POY candidates go head to head, with Jovan and Jamestown’s Mason Walters. Carroll still has the height to matchup with this Jamestown team, but stopping Mason Walters is a tough task. This game should be a physical, grind it out type of game and could come down to who can make more shots from deep.

Liston Quadrant

Opening Round Scores

Round of 32 Schedule

5pm CT – #2 Thomas More vs #7 StillmanWatch$

Thomas More gets to play this one at home, but this Stillman group will be a tough matchup for them as they matchup really well against their 5 out style of play. Stillman has had some nice wins and some really tough, close games against some of the best teams in the country. They won’t back down from this challenge. TMU though, has played like a real National Championship contender and Ryan Batte, the Mid-South Player of the Year, seems to always produce. TMU is by far the better shooting team though, so if Stillman is going to give themselves a shot here, they are going to have to guard the 3pt line.

5:30pm CT – #4 Science & Arts (OK) vs #5 LSU ShreveportWatch $

These two teams will meet for the 2nd time this season as they met in the Battle at the Beach, a game in which USAO won by 14. Shreveport, at the time, wasn’t playing good basketball. They found themselves a bit late in the year though and this is a super talented group led by All-American, Leondre Washington. Leondre went off for 30pts in last nights win. They do only have 8 guys though, so the back to back games may hurt them a bit today with the lack of depth. Today they will have their hands full with one of the best back court duo’s in the NAIA in Cam Hines (SAC Player of the Year) and Stephon Hall. They will also have to keep the high motor, Rory Pantophlet, off the glass as well. If you like fast pace games, then this is your game to watch today. This could be a 110-108 type of game.

5:30pm CT – #3 Montana Tech vs #6 SAGUWatch

Sindou Diallo and Montana Tech got their first post season win in program history yesterday. In order to make it 2, they will have to get a road win against a SAGU team, who quite frankly, looked like a National Contender last night. SAGU is long, athletic and when they are playing defense, they are tough to score on as well. Nykolas Mason, returned, in a limited role, yesterday as well, so a super talented team is getting back healthy. This is a team that if they make it back to Kansas City, will be a force to reckon with. Expect Montana Tech to grind out possessions today to try and keep SAGU from getting a lot of momentum. If they can take care of the ball and get the clean looks they are used to getting, they can pull off this upset tonight.

6pm CT – #1 Oklahoma Wesleyan vs #9 Kansas WesleyanWatch $

Two KCAC teams get to meet for the 4th time this season. KWU, led by Jun Murdock and AJ Range have some nice wins under their belt this season. However, they have been dominated by this OKWU in the previous 3 matchups, being outscored 238-183 this season. Anything can happen in a winner take all game though. OKWU subs 5in, 5out and are ultra deep. While they are deep and talented, it’s been their defense that has given KWU issues. They have held KWU to some of their lowest point totals on the season.

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