It has been a heck of a past two days inside of historic Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City. From OT games to blowout wins, we have almost seen it all in these first two days. If one thing is for certain it is that you have aspirations in making it to the Round of 16, then you better bring your big boy pants with you to Kansas City, because these games, for the most part, have been insanely physical!!! You can say whatever you want about the lack of fouls being called at the rim, but I will say this, it’s been called (not called) pretty consistently throughout the first two days and it’s pretty consistent with what we have seen over the past few years here. Some leagues and teams are used to it, others it takes some adjusting to. The teams who have been here in the past seem to adjust the quickest to it, but we saw teams like Indiana Tech and Montana Tech who are both built for this style of play, advance to the quarterfinals as well. You can be assured, that if the first two days were any indication of what to expect the rest of the way out, we are in for some more GREAT basketball!
Naismith Quadrant: 1-seed College of Idaho vs 6-seed Tougaloo
A fun battle between the only two 1-loss teams left in the NAIA! The Yotes have looked like a real deal. They rolled through the two Red River Athletic Conference in the last two rounds knocking off the RRAC Tournament Champions, Xavier and the RRAC Regular Season Champs, LSU Shreveport. Their last win against Shreveport was as dominant of a win as we have seen inside of Muni. Especially now that it’s just 16 teams and not 32 teams. For Tougaloo, the Bulldogs continue to okay with a chip on their shoulder. The GCAC doesn’t get a lot of love and even though the Bulldogs only have one loss they never saw the love inside the Top 25 and I am sure they felt slighted again receiving a 6-seed! Tougaloo is showing that maybe analytics isn’t everything as they could care less what the “numbers” say they just go out and prove it on the court. Cameron Copeland and company have their hands full in this one though as they try to figure out how to slow down the runaway train that is College of Idaho!
Cramer Quadrant: 4-seed Montana Tech vs 7-seed Ottawa (AZ)
How about them Diggers from Butte!? The Champions of the Frontier Conference, Montana Tech comes into this one after knocking off 1-seed William Penn in what was probably the game of the Round of 16. A game they won by 1pt in Overtime. They are still without Frontier Conf. POY, Caleb Bellach, but the Diggers have won their last two games without him. Today they face off against the GSAC Tournament Champions, OUAZ. A team, who hit the shot of the championships in the opening round, as Josiah De laCerda hit the game winning 3 at the buzzer to keep their season alive. They then went on to beat 2-seed Oklahoma Wesleyan and then knocked off one of the hottest teams in the NAIA in Southeastern (FL). Both of these teams seem to be teams of destiny and if their prior games have proven anything, it’s safe to say that BOTH of these teams are going to leave everything they have in the court today!
Duer Quadrant: 1-seed Grace vs 3-seed Georgetown
Both of these two looked the part yesterday in their Round of 16 games. Both teams have size, length, depth and are also VERY talented! Georgetown Head Coach, Chris Briggs is 22-6 inside of Municipal Auditorium, has won two National Titles and has led the Tigers to their fair share of big wins in Kansas City. They have already knocked off the Crossroads League runners-up, Indiana Wesleyan, now they turn their attention to the Crossroads League Champions, Grace. The Lancers boast one of the most dominant bigs in the country in Elijah Malone. Frankie Davidson seems to always get his quiet 15pts and the Gibbs twins are playing the best basketball of their careers right now as well. They knocked off the Mid-South Tournament Champions yesterday and now face the Mid-South regular season champions today! This has the making of being the game of the day!
Liston Quadrant: 1-seed Arizona Christian vs 2-seed Indiana Tech
Arizona Christian looked pretty dominant in yesterdays win over 4-seed, Morningside. For ACU, when they have been healthy, they have looked every part of being the No. 1 team in the NAIA. They are healthy again and showed last night they they can beat you in a variety of ways. A formula that has proven to be successful inside of Muni! As we have been talking about this entire year, matchups matter and Indians Tech is a tougher matchup for ACU then what Morningside was. Tech’s Rog Stein was a beast in the 2nd half yesterday as Tech knocked off Jamestown 61-51. They have the size, speed and athleticism to compete with ACU. A key matchup to watch in this game are the two small guards who are both defensive menaces in Angelo Johnson (ACU) and Cory McKinney (IN Tech). Both of these guys bring energy and provide big momentum sparks for their teams. Look for both to do so again today!