SEWARD, Neb. – Nearly a week after celebrating a GPAC tournament title, the Concordia University men’s basketball team is well into preparation for the first round of the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship. The Bulldogs will attempt to upset fifth-ranked Ottawa University (Kan.) when action tips off at 10:15 a.m. CT from the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Thursday. The Sanford Pentagon will be the site for the entire 32-team bracket.
Thursday, March 12 | 10:15 a.m.
NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship (First Round)
Concordia (24-9) vs. No. 5 Ottawa (27-6)
Sioux Falls, S.D. | Sanford Pentagon
Webcast: NAIA Network
Radio: 104.9 Max Country (Tyler Cavalli)
Live stats: Dakstats
Head coach Ben Limback’s squad will carry a seven-game win streak into the program’s 10th all-time national tournament appearance. Concordia has not appeared on the national stage since the 2004-05 squad advanced all the way to the national championship game. Former head coach Grant Schmidt presided over each of the program’s first nine trips to the national tournament. The Bulldogs are 11-9 in 20 national tournament games with two advancements to at least the national semifinals (1992 and 2005). Concordia also made its way to the quarterfinals in 1995 and 2003. Limback himself played for three Bulldog national qualifying teams (1996, 1997 and 1998).
Despite the win streak, Concordia moved up only one spot in the receiving votes category in the NAIA poll released on March 4. The Bulldogs reached this point while following the lead of the likes of All-GPAC honorees in Brevin Sloup (first team), Carter Kent (second team), Tanner Shuck (honorable mention) and Justin Wiersema (honorable mention). Each time out could be the last for the likes of seniors Shuck, Sloup and fellow starter Chuol Biel. That bunch deserves plenty of credit for helping steady the program after the 2018-19 team slumped to a rough 1-9 start in GPAC play.
Shuck has certainly played like a senior determined to keep his career going. He averaged 16 points per game during the three-game conference tournament championship run. Sloup also knocked down two crucial free throws at the Corn Palace in the 68-66 GPAC title win over Dakota Wesleyan. Shuck has now started 116 consecutive games and ranks eighth in program history with 1,558 career points. The Bulldogs are plenty capable of presenting some matchup problems with their wealth of capable perimeter shooters. The current team’s school single-season record for made 3-point field goals stands at 369 (fifth most in NAIA Division II).
Ottawa will be a completely unfamiliar foe. In fact, the two programs have not met since Nov. 10, 2006 (Ottawa won 87-64). The Braves are the champions of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season and placed as the tournament runner up. Led by head coach Aaron Siebenthal, Ottawa has made a big jump from the 18-14 record it posted last season. This will be the seventh all-time national tournament appearance for the Braves, who had not qualified since 2009. Senior guard Darryl Bowie earned KCAC Player of the Year accolades while averaging 17.8 points per game (as a reserve). In the Massey Ratings, Ottawa appears at 22 among NAIA Division II teams (Concordia is No. 12).
The winner on Thursday will play in the second round on Friday at 4 p.m. CT. The opponent will be either third-seeded Union (Ky.) or sixth-seeded Saint Francis (Ind.).
G – Brevin Sloup, Sr., 5-9 (16.0)
G – Justin Wiersema, So., 6-3 (10.6)
G – Carter Kent, So., 6-2 (12.6)
F – Tanner Shuck, Sr., 6-4 (13.2)
F – Chuol Biel, Sr., 6-8 (5.6)
G – Ryan Haskins, Sr., 5-10 (13.2)
G – Matt Baldeh, Sr., 6-1 (7.6)
G – Jackson Mallory, Jr., 6-2 (5.8)
G/F – Jaquan Daniels, Jr., 6-4 (13.0)
F – Mason McDown, Jr., 6-7 (8.7)