GPAC championship set for Tuesday at the Corn Palace

By Jacob Knabel on Mar. 1, 2020 in Men's Basketball

SEWARD, Neb. – For the first time since 2005, the Concordia University men’s basketball program will appear in the GPAC tournament championship game. The fourth-seeded Bulldogs protected the home court in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds by knocking off fifth-seeded Northwestern and eighth-seeded Hastings. Head coach Ben Limback’s red hot squad will ride a six-game win streak into Tuesday’s championship game at No. 2 seed Dakota Wesleyan.

GPAC Championship Game

Tuesday, March 3 at (11) Dakota Wesleyan (23-8), 7 p.m.
Corn Palace | Mitchell, S.D.
--Live Webcast/Stats
--Admission: $10 for adults/senior citizens, $3 for K-12; only those with NAIA passes and GPAC student ID’s will be admitted free of charge.

This 2019-20 Concordia team is reaching heights the program had not achieved in several years. Not only are the Bulldogs about to play in a conference title game for the first time in 15 years, they also hosted in the GPAC tournament for the first time since 2011 and won a postseason game for the first time since 2009. In addition, the 23 overall wins are the most for the program since the 2004-05 season (32-6 mark) and rank as its third highest single-season total during the GPAC era (2000-present). Previously, the high water mark for wins in a season during Limback’s tenure was 21 victories in 2016-17.

Concordia capped the regular season with four-straight wins, mostly of the shootout variety. That changed last week when the Bulldogs held Northwestern and Hastings to a combined 5-for-34 shooting from 3-point range. The difference from beyond the arc has been a key factor in Concordia’s success throughout this season (358 to 230 advantage in 3-point field goals made over opponents). Individually, Justin Wiersema notched a career high 22 points in the win over Northwestern and Tanner Shuck dropped in 17 points while making five treys versus Hastings. Shuck is up to 1,542 career points while fellow senior Brevin Sloup stands at 1,224.

Concordia is 2-1 in its previous three appearances in GPAC championship games. Grant Schmidt presided over all three of those tournament runs during a successful 23-year head coaching tenure that included a combined five NIAC titles (prior to the formation of the GPAC).

Previous GPAC Championship Games
2005 – vs. Sioux Falls | W, 62-58
2003 – vs. Dordt | W, 90-82 (OT)
2001 – at Northwestern | L, 83-91

Now the Bulldogs will attempt to end a seven-game series skid against Dakota Wesleyan. The Tigers have reached the GPAC tournament title game for the first time since 2010, when they toppled Sioux Falls at home. Head coach Matt Wilber’s squad dealt the Bulldogs two ugly losses this season – 77-57 in Seward and 71-50 in Mitchell. Those point totals were the two lowest in GPAC play this season for Concordia. The Tigers have made their way to the championship with postseason wins over seventh-seeded Jamestown and sixth-seeded Mount Marty. The star of the DWU show is Ty Hoglund, who poured in 33 points versus Jamestown.

The bracket for the 2020 NAIA Division II National Championship will be released on Wednesday. The GPAC tournament champion will receive an automatic bid to the national tournament. Should the Bulldogs fall at the Corn Palace, they will be a candidate for an at-large berth.

Projected Lineups

Concordia (23-9, 12-8 GPAC)
G – Brevin Sloup, Sr., 5-9 (16.1)
G – Justin Wiersema, So., 6-3 (10.6)
G – Carter Kent, So., 6-2 (12.6)
F – Tanner Shuck, Sr., 6-4 (13.1)
F – Chuol Biel, Sr., 6-8 (5.6)

Dakota Wesleyan (23-8, 13-7 GPAC)
G – Ty Hoglund, Sr., 6-3 (22.6)
F – Koln Oppold, So., 6-4 (8.0)
F – Collin Kramer, Jr., 6-3 (5.9)
F – Mason Larson, So., 6-7 (7.3)
F – Samuel McCloud, Sr., 6-8 (9.5)

2020 GPAC Men’s Basketball Tournament

GPAC Quarterfinals – Wednesday, Feb. 26
(8) Hastings def. (1) Morningside, 84-80
(4) Concordia def. (5) Northwestern, 74-63
(6) Mount Marty def. (3) Dordt, 75-74
(2) Dakota Wesleyan def. (7) Jamestown, 90-75

GPAC Semifinals – Saturday, Feb. 29
(4) Concordia def. (8) Hastings, 71-61
(2) Dakota Wesleyan def. (6) Mount Marty, 86-62

GPAC Championship – Tuesday, March 3
(4) Concordia at (2) Dakota Wesleyan, 7 p.m.