Thursday, March 5, 2009

Long-distance Travel Award Goes To NAIA Basketball Tournament Qualifiers

UPDATE: Pairings for the first round of the NAIA tournaments (all times CDT):

Wed., Mar. 11, 3:30 p.m.: Cedarville vs. Bethel (Ind.).
Thu., Mar. 12, 12 noon: Ohio Dominican vs. Dickinson St. (N.D.)

Wed., Mar. 11, 4 p.m.: Mt. Vernon Nazarene vs. Bellevue (Neb.); 5:45 p.m.: Cedarville vs. Sioux Falls (S.D.)
Thu., Mar. 12, 12 noon: Walsh vs. Ottawa (Kan.)

Five Ohio independent college basketball teams have been invited to the postseason tournament of the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics, the NCAA’s principal rival.

In the 32-team field for the men’s Division II tournament are Walsh, the tournament champion for the America Mideast Conference; Cedarville, the regular season champ; and Mount Vernon Nazarene, an at-large selection. Among the 32 teams qualifying for the women’s tournament are Ohio Dominican, tournament champion of the America Mideast Conference, and Cedarville, the runner-up.

Unlike the NCAA tournaments, each NAIA basketball tourney takes place at a single site from March 11-17, and the distance from home for all AICUO’s teams far outstrips what the first-round NCAA teams must traverse. The women’s tournament is in Sioux City, Iowa, forcing Cedarville to travel 809 miles and Ohio Dominican 847 miles – much farther than Capital’s 425-mile journey to St. Louis for its NCAA women’s first-round game.

For the men the distance is not quite as far, as the tourney is at the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo. Walsh still needs to travel 800 miles, Mount Vernon Nazarene 720 miles, and Cedarville 636 miles.

Pairings, ticket information and broadcast availability are on the NAIA tournament web sites, one each for the men and women.

-- Bob Burke