Basketball punches ticket to NCAA Tournament

They squeak into the tourney after being upset by Bemidji State in the NSIC tournament

Brady Olson
Staff Writer

Despite an early exit in the NSIC (Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) tournament, the Minnesota State men’s basketball team will see their season last a little longer, as they received the No. 8 seed in the NCAA D-II Tournament during Selection Sunday this past weekend, and will face-off with No. 1 seed Northwest Missouri State University.

Coming into the NSIC tournament, MNSU was No. 7 in the NCAA’s Central Region rankings. That is important because of the way the D-II tournament functions. Instead of four 16-team regions like in the Division I tournament, the Division II format has eight eight-team regions. Each region holds three conferences, and the winner of each conference tournament, along with five at-large bids, fill out each region. 

Going into the first round matchup against Bemidji State in the NSIC tournament, Minnesota State’s ranking spot had them one ahead of fellow NSIC member Minnesota-Duluth.

What was expected to be an easy first round victory for the Mavericks turned into a hard-fought battle, culminating in a 66-56 defeat at the hands of Bemidji State. 

As a result, Southeastern Oklahoma moved into the seven-seed in the final bracket. Luckily for MNSU, the UMD Bulldogs were having a bad night as well, and would go onto lose to Winona State 62-56. 

The last shuffle put MNSU into the eight-spot, and forced Minnesota-Duluth out of the tournament picture.

While the Mavericks are certainly thrilled to be in the tournament, their first-round matchup will be the toughest in the entire country. Their opponent is none other than Northwest Missouri State, the unanimous No. 1 team in Division II. 

The match will also take place on the Bearcats’ home turf, as No. 1 seeds get to host their respective regional tournaments. 

Luckily for the Mavs, they are 11-3 this season when they play away from Bresnan Arena, compared to 7-8 when they play at home.

The Central Region tournament will take place on March 16, 17, and 19 in Maryville, Missouri. The Mavericks will face-off with the Bearcats this Saturday with tip-off scheduled for 6 p.m. If the Mavericks advance past the first round, they will face the winner of St. Cloud State and Southern Nazarene. This is MNSU’s second straight tournament appearance, and their sixth in seven years.

Header photo: Freshman guard Tre Baumgardner (pictured) and the Mavericks survived and made it to the NCAA tournament. Now, the team hopes to pull the upset over Northwest Missouri State on Saturday. (Mansoor Ahmad | MSU Reporter)

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