SEWARD, Neb. – The reward for making the conference tournament is a second trip to Morningside in a two-week span for the Concordia University men’s basketball team. As the GPAC regular season champion, the Mustangs have earned home court for as long as they remain alive in the conference tournament. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs secured the No. 8 seed by going 6-4 over their final 10 GPAC regular season games.
Concordia and Morningside will tip off at 7 p.m. CST on Wednesday from the Rosen Verdoorn Sports Center in Sioux City, Iowa. The game will not be broadcast on 104.9 Max Country but can be stream live via Morningside’s athletics website.
Sixth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad ended the regular season in positive fashion, winning 84-79 at Mount Marty. That victory, coupled with losses by both Doane and Midland, put Concordia comfortably into the conference tournament as the eighth seed. Such qualification for the postseason would have seemed unlikely back on Jan. 5 when the Bulldogs fell to 1-9 in league play. A turnaround began when Tanner Shuck led Concordia back for an improbable win at Hastings on Jan. 9.
It’s going to take an upset to end the Bulldogs’ prolonged drought in the postseason. The program’s last GPAC tournament victory came in 2009 when then head coach Grant Schmidt’s squad made a run to the conference semifinals. Under Limback, Concordia has now faced a road matchup in the quarterfinals for the fifth season in a row. The first three of those trips ended in losses at Dakota Wesleyan.
The Bulldogs would love to duplicate the shooting percentage of 56.6 that they put up last week at Mount Marty. They will need a solid offensive night to keep up with a Morningside squad that ranks second nationally in field goal percentage (.524). Budding freshman Carter Kent has had success this season against the Mustangs having poured in a combined 35 points in the two regular season meetings. He is coming off a 19-point outing at Mount Marty. Of course, the offense is always much more prolific when Brevin Sloup and Tanner Shuck are knocking down perimeter shots. Among GPAC players, they rank ninth and 21st, respectively, in 3-point field goal percentage.
Head coach Jim Sykes has about as balanced of a squad as one can find. Concordia will have to figure out how to better contain big man Tyler Borchers, who went off for 26 points on 11-for-14 shooting in the meeting two weeks ago. Opponents also have to keep tabs on outside shooters in Brody Egger and Matt Hahn. The Mustangs are 11-0 at home with their lone losses this season coming at Dakota Wesleyan and at Jamestown. Morningside has won each of the last six in the series with the Bulldogs.
The winner on Wednesday will advance to the semifinals on Saturday and take on whichever squad emerges in the matchup between fourth-seeded Dakota Wesleyan and fifth-seeded Northwestern.
(Scoring average in parentheses)
Concordia (15-15, 7-13 GPAC)
G – Brevin Sloup, Jr., 5-9 (16.5)
G – Carter Kent, Fr., 6-2 (10.1)
G – Tanner Shuck, Jr., 6-4 (13.6)
G – Justin Wiersema, Fr., 6-3 (5.4)
F – Chuol Biel, Jr., 6-8 (6.6)
Morningside (25-2, 18-2 GPAC)
G – Alex Borchers, Jr., 5-10 (9.1)
G – Brody Egger, Sr., 6-2 (11.9)
G – Zach Imig, So., 6-3 (12.6)
F – Matt Hahn, Jr., 6-3 (11.7)
C – Tyler Borchers, Jr., 6-7 (15.6)
Quarterfinals – Wednesday, Feb. 20
No. 8 Concordia (15-15, 7-13) at No. 1 Morningside (25-2, 18-2), 7 p.m.
No. 5 Northwestern (17-12, 11-9) at No. 4 Dakota Wesleyan (21-8, 13-7), 8 p.m.
No. 6 Dordt (18-12, 10-10) at No. 3 Briar Cliff (20-7, 14-6), 7 p.m.
No. 7 Hastings (19-11, 10-10) at No. 2 Jamestown (25-5, 15-5), 6 p.m.
Semifinals – Saturday, Feb. 23
No. 1/8 winner vs. No. 4/5 winner, time TBA
No. 3/6 winner vs. No. 2/7 winner, time TBA
Championship – Tuesday, Feb. 26