Men and Women in National Tourney

Posted on: March 2, 2012

The Men's and Women's Basketball Teams earned trips to the National Tournament. The Men's team won the regular season and conference tournament while the women, who won the regular season, earned an at-large bid.

Jack slayton, Sports Editor
Daily Post Athenian

Men's Bracket  |  Women's Bracket

With the Appalachian Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles in hand, the Tennessee Wesleyan College men knew they were in - Wednesday afternoon, the TWC women were notified they would also be making a trip to the NAIA Division II national championship tournament, as well.

The Union College women had earned an automatic bid with their win over the regular-season champion Lady Bulldogs in the AAC tournament finals. Wesleyan, 24-8 overall and ranked 14th in the national poll, then was chosen as the fourth team among 11 at-large bids issued by the NAIA to make up the 32-team field.

"We were disappointed about losing to Union, but believed our season results gave us a pretty good chance to get in," said Wesleyan women's Coach Jeff Rice of Wesleyan's third bid to the national tournament in as many years. "I'm glad the selection committee felt the same way. I think these young ladies have worked hard enough and played well enough to deserve an opportunity to be in the 'Big Show'."

Wesleyan is seeded fourth in its eight-team bracket and will meet fifth-seeded Hastings College, (Neb.) at noon (CST) on Thursday, March 8, at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. The tournament opens on Wednesday, March 7, with the championship game set for Tuesday, March 13. Hastings, another at-large entry and ranked 19th, is 21-10 with 13 previous tournament appearances that includes three national titles.

"Obviously, (Hastings) has a rich tradition, but then there are no easy draws at this level," said Rice. "We expect them to be strong and physical - that's the reputation of the conference they play in."

Should Wesleyan win, it would meet the Cornerstone (Mich.)-Northwest (Wash.) winner on Friday, March 9, at 4 p.m.

The Tennessee Wesleyan College men (24-9) will have the honor of opening play in the men's Division II tournament at College of the Ozarks in Long Point, Mo., tipping off against Northwestern Iowa (25-6) at 8:30 a.m. (CST) on Wednesday, March 7. Like the women's tournament, the championship game is scheduled for March 13.

Wesleyan, tied for 23rd in the national poll, is seeded sixth and Northwestern Iowa (ranked 10th) third in the eight-team bracket.

"I was hoping for a little better seeding, maybe a three or four," said men's Coach Mike Poe, who took teams to back-to-back national appearances in his first two years (2005-06) as head coach. "Our conference has not had a lot of success out there and I guess that factored into the committee's decision."

This will be TWC's fourth trip to the nationals with an 0-3 record in the three previous outings.

"It's one thing to get there and another to win -that's what we need to start doing if we're going to get that kind of respect," he added.

That won't be easy against Northwestern Iowa, according to Poe.

"We don't know a lot about them, but we do know they are a typical Midwest team - big, strong and physical," said Poe. "They play that Big 10 style of basketball."

Should Wesleyan win, it would meet the host College of the Ozarks-VAlley City State (S.D) on Friday, March 9, at 1:45 p.m.