KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The brackets are set, and the University of Science and Arts now knows its first first-round opponent in its fifth national tournament appearance.
The Drovers will begin with the No. 3 seed Union University, Tenn., beginning at 12:30 p.m. Thursday from the Municipal Auditorium.
Union, the fourth-ranked team in the country, won the TranSouth Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles after a 28-5 season. The Bulldogs defeated Freed-Hardeman University 105-78 in the tournament finals behind 35 points from Matt Neaville and 23 from Greg Truvillion.
While five teams from the Sooner Athletic Conference earned bids into the tournament led by top-seeded Rogers State and second-seeded Oklahoma Baptist, only two teams from the TranSouth earned bids. Freed-Hardeman, which beat Union twice during the regular season by five combined points, was the conference’s other invitee.
Union enters the national tournament on a six-game winning streak and winners of 14 of their last 15. The Bulldogs have faced five national tournament teams this season posting a 5-5 record.
There is an interesting twist regarding this matchup for Drover fans. In Union’s last three national tournament appearances, the eventual national champion defeated the Bulldogs in the first round. Union was the higher seed in two of those games.
In addition USAO is making its second straight national tournament appearance. The last time the Drovers played in its second straight national tournament, USAO won the national title.
The winner of Thursday’s game will move on to face the winner of Columbia, Mo., (26-7) and Lee, Tenn., (26-7). A potential Sweet-16 matchup is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Friday.
All of USAO’s tournament games will be carried locally by KOOL 105.5 FM and on the Internet. USAO’s sports web site www.usao.edu/usao-sports will have game times, opponent information, brackets, live statistics as well as the live stream from KOOL 105.5 FM as soon as it becomes available.