And then…there were four. A Fab Four, to say the least, as we have all four 1-seeds making it to the NAIA semifinals for the first time ever! If you follow the site or our Road To Muni Podcast, regularly, you know that this isn’t a real shock, as we have felt that there was a tier of about six teams that were really good. Then a grouping behind them from 7-15 that were pretty good. Then a large grouping behind them from 16-50 that were all pretty similar! Does it always play out that way in the tournament? NO! However, there are no more surprises and all four of these teams have been so good all year long!

Game 1: Grace vs Freed-Hardeman

  • The two top teams from the Great Lakes/South ARC meet up in the 1st Fab Four game.
  • Grace beat: No. 16 Washington Adventist, No. 8 Union, No. 5 Northwestern (IA) and No. 15 Evangel to win the Naismith Quadrant!
  • Freed-Hardeman beat: No. 16 Loyola (LA), No. 8 Point Park, No. 5 The Master’s and No. 14 Central Baptist to win the Cramer Quadrant!
  • FHU is the best NETDEF team in the country. Grace ranks 2nd in OFF EFF ratings.
  • Grace is going to have the size advantage inside with Elijah Malone. But, FHU switches everything defensively anyway, so they are comfortable with having to guard different positions!
  • Both teams play hard and play smart. They are both physical and crash the glass hard!
  • For Grace, they can’t let the 3pt line beat them! They have two of the better Forwards in the NAIA in Elijah Malone and Ian Scott and I suspect you will see the offense working through both a ton. One of Elijah’s most underrated skills is his passing ability. I think you could see that on full display tonight as Freed will no doubt bring a lot of bodies at the big fella, which in return, will open up passing options for Elijah! If the Lancers, who haven’t needed to shoot the ball well yet, hit some 3’s and continue to defend well, they will win this game!
  • For FHU, they have shot the ball really well in this tournament. If that continues tonight, they will be there until the end! They play with a lot of confidence and swag. They are going to have to decide if they are going to double team Elijay or not. Either way, they can’t let him catch the ball deep in the post, or it’s a free bucket all night. If they can withstand the Grace runs, hit from deep and win the rebounding battle, they will give themselves a chance in this one!

Game 2: Langston vs College of Idaho

  • Langston was the No. 1 team in the Southwest ARC. While College of Idaho was the No. 1 team in the West ARC.
  • Langston beat: No. 16 Bellevue, No. 9 Ave Maria, No. 12 LSU Shreveport and No. 2 Indiana Wesleyan on their way to winning the Duer Quadrant!
  • College of Idaho beat: No. 16 Jessup, No. 8 Cornerstone, No. 5 Madonna, and No. 3 Morningside to win the Liston Quadrant!
  • Langston is the No. 2 NET DEF team and College of Idaho is the No. 1 NET OFF team in the country. College of Idaho is also the No. 4 NETDEF team in the country!
  • As we saw during their National Championship run last year and have seen again this year, the Yotes aren’t afraid to hit shots inside of Muni! They continue to shoot the ball at a high clip and if they do so again tonight, they will disrupt the Langston defense!
  • College of Idaho can beat you in a lot of different ways, but the three most consistent areas they beat people are their ability to pound the offensive glass and get second and third chance opportunities, their ability to push the ball up the floor and their suffocating matchup zone defenses that they change up throughout the course of the game.
  • Langston, as we saw in the Quarterfinal matchup with Indiana Wesleyan, is going to try and take the air out of the ball and slow the tempo way down to try and keep the Yotes from finding any sort of offensive flow. They are super talented, but if they don’t keep C of I off the glass it will be tough to win.
  • For both teams, I expect this game to be a pretty slow-paced game once again. A game that you may see as many defensive stops leading to points as you will see offense leading to points. This sounds dumb saying, as it is usually the way for most teams, but this truly feels like a game that whoever gets the most stops and the most rebounds, is going to win. I think shot making on the offensive end is going to come tough for both teams, unless one of them opens it up from the 3pt line!

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