No. 1 seed Mavericks look to defend their home court in NCAA Tournament

For the fifth time in school history, the Minnesota State Mavericks will host the NCAA Central Region Tournament.

This opportunity comes off the backs of their incredibly successful men’s basketball team, which was able to capture the No. 1 seed in the tournament after their 29-2 season. Most recently, the team defeated the University of Minnesota Duluth in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament Championship, 97-77. 

This Mavericks team has been rolling all season, led by NSIC Player of the Year and Tournament MVP Malik Willingham, who led the team in points, (19.1) assists (4.4) and steals (1.5) per game in his senior year at MSU. 

Kyreese Willingham joined him on the All-NSIC First Team after a junior campaign that saw him average 14.3 points and 5.3 rebounds, while also forming a great connection with his brother Malik. Dylan Peeters, Justin Eagins and Elijah Hazekamp round out the starting five for your Mavericks, and each of them are in their first year with the team. 

For the graduate students Peeters and Hazekamp, it will be their last, and what a season it has been for them. Peeters was named to All-NSIC Second Team for his presence in the paint, averaging 10.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and over a steal and a block per night. 

Hazekamp was the only member of the Mavs’ starting lineup to not make an All-NSIC Team, but his presence as a floor-spacer is one that really opens up the Mavericks offense. He and Eagins each shot around 40% from beyond the arc on the season. Eagins played the most amount of minutes for the Mavericks this season, and was their third leading scorer in his junior year. He also led the team in three-point percentage (min. 10 attempts) with a 40.7% success rate from three-point range.

Off the bench, Harrison Braudis, Brady Williams and Malcolm Jones all have contributed to winning and don’t miss a beat when their starters need to come out of the game. At the helm of the roster, creating gameplans, plays, lineup combinations and so much more is this year’s NSIC Coach of the Year, Matt Margenthaler. Now in his 23rd season with the Mavs, he has led the team to eight conference championships and been named NCC/NSIC conference Coach of the Year seven times, both accomplishments including this year.

Concerning their opponents in the upcoming tournament, the Mavericks will first take on the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys in the first round. The only other time these two teams faced off, the Mavericks took home an 81-65 victory. The Wonder Boys have a 25-6 record, including an 18-4 record in the Great American Conference, the conference in which they have advanced from after winning their tournament. 

Taelon Peter is the leading offensive threat for the Wonder Boys, averaging 19 points per game, 5.9 rebounds and has 81 made three-pointers this season. Behind him are Cassius Brooks (12.9 points, 3.5 rebounds per game), Tommy Kamarad (12.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Kade Shaffer (7.6 ppg, 4.7 assists per game). 

As a team, the Wonder Boys average 73.5 ppg on 46.3% from the field and 38.9% from downtown, force 12.7 turnovers per game, dish out 13.7 assists per game and collect 34.1 rebounds per game. Their first round matchup will take place on 5 p.m. Saturday at the Taylor Center.

If the Mavs are victorious, they will take on the winner of the No. 4 seeded MSU Moorhead and No. 5 seeded Pittsburg State 7:30 p.m. Sunday. The championship game takes place 7 p.m. Tuesday, where this year’s NCAA Central Region Tournament Champion will be crowned. 

Tickets have been on sale since Monday, March 11 and are available online at The tournament tickets available are for general admission seating, where it is $10 for adults, $5 for youth (ages 5-17), senior citizens, and college students with school identification. The ticket office and pass gates will open 90 minutes prior to the start of the first game of each daily session and the arena will open 60 minutes prior to the scheduled start of each game.

Header Photo: The Mavericks begin the regional tournament on Saturday as they take on eighth-seeded Arkansas Tech on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. in Taylor Center. (Dylan Long/The Reporter)

Write to Hayden Lee at

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