CHICKASHA – The USAO men’s basketball team will be returning to Kansas City for the first time since 2009 after qualifying for the 2013 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship tournament on Wednesday.
The Drovers (17-9) will actually kick off the tournament, playing in the first game at 9 a.m. Wednesday against Southwestern Assemblies of God (29-4). SAGU will become a regular opponent as they join the SAC beginning next season.
“I was hoping that we did make it because these guys, at the end, got on a roll,” Head Coach Brisco McPherson said. “So we’re excited for the opportunity. That’s always been our goal — to make it to the national tournament — and we achieved that. It’s an exciting time, especially for our guys.”
USAO earned the 16th at-large bid of the 17 awarded. Thirty-two teams qualified for the tournament, including three other SAC teams: John Brown, Oklahoma Baptist and SAC Tournament winner Oklahoma City.
In the final Top 25 Coaches’ Poll also released Wednesday, the Drovers were the first team listed in the “receiving votes” section.
McPherson and the Drovers are 10-4 in the national tournament with this being their sixth trip. USAO won the title in 2002.
“The players are all excited. They’re ready to go compete. Our record at the national tournament is pretty good, and they are wanting to go up there and have a good showing,” McPherson said.
Held in Kansas City, Mo., since 2002, the national tournament will take place at historic Municipal Auditorium. There are 31 games scheduled from March 13-19 in single-elimination format.
NeuLion is the NAIA's Digital Media Partner and official video-streaming company of 12 select NAIA National Championship events. The first 28 games from Kansas City, Mo., will be available via live video stream for $29.95 and any single day can be purchased for $9.95.
The semifinals will be broadcast live on ESPN3 at 6 p.m. CST and 8 p.m. on March 18 and the championship final will be televised live on CBS Sports Network at 7:30 p.m. on March 19.
USAO will be hosting a watch party in Dusty’s in the student center for all of USAO’s games throughout the tournament.