Bulldogs earn No. 3 seed for NAIA Tournament

Published 4:32 pm Friday, March 1, 2019

BARBOURVILLE, Ky. — Let the quest to be the best begin.

Union College found out its path to the 2019 NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship on Wednesday, entering as the No. 3 seed in the Naismith Bracket. Union opens play on March 6 at 9 p.m. Eastern against sixth-seeded IU Kokomo.

The 28th annual NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship takes place at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D., March 6-12.

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In the final NAIA Coaches’ Poll, the Bulldogs jumped three spots to land at No. 9 to earn the top No. 3 seed in the tournament. The Cougars also climbed three places in the rankings, checking in at No. 22.

This is Union’s seventh overall appearance in the tournament and sixth in a row. The Bulldogs are 26-6 overall and qualified for the tournament by winning both the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) regular-season and tournament championships.

IU Kokomo is making its first-ever national tournament appearance and qualified for the tournament by winning the River States Conference (RSC) East. The Cougars advanced to the RSC Tournament championship game but fell 85-83 to WVU Tech.

This year’s field consists of 23 automatic berths and 9 at-large spots. Automatic qualification is given to conference regular-season champions, regular-season runners-up, tournament champions or tournament runners-up depending on the league. At-large teams were determined using the final regular-season Coaches’ Top 25 Poll released Wednesday.

The NAIA Network (www.NAIANetwork.com) – the association’s official video streaming home – will broadcast the first 30 games leading up to the championship final on ESPN3. The video platform allows users to access video, statistics, and social interaction on a number of devices, including mobile. Single-day passes can be purchased for $9.95, while an all-tournament package is available at $34.95.

Qualifier Notes

Defending national champion Indiana Wesleyan enters the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed looking to become only the second team in Division II men’s basketball history to win back-to-back national titles. Bethel accomplished the feat in 1997 and 1998.

This will be Indiana Wesleyan’s 12th trip to the national tournament. The Wildcats hold an overall record of 28-5 and leads the Crossroads League with a 14-4 record. The team also leads the division in field goal percentage (0.539).

Twenty teams return to the championship from the 2018 field

Eight teams have made at least 10 appearances at the national championship. College of the Ozarks leads the group as 2019 will mark the Bobcats 22nd time competing in the tournament. Oregon Tech and Cornerstone are next with 17 appearances each.

Three different institutions in this year’s tournament have won three national titles. Cornerstone (1999, 2011, 2015), Oregon Tech (2004, 2008, 2012), Indiana Wesleyan (2014, 2016, 2018) pace the field with three national titles each.

IU Kokomo and Ave Maria are making their first-ever trip to the national championship.